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Girringun celebrates the fusion of Technology and Culture

28/May/2021
Girramay Traditional Owners, Chris Muriata, Sam Muriata, Amber Davis, and Simon Muriata. Image Credit Anthony Vardanega

Girringun held a red-carpet Gala event on Friday evening, May 21, to celebrate the re-opening of their newly refurbished Art Gallery, and the launch of an online gallery, using virtual technology to further the horizons of art and culture. 

The event was a huge success, and showcased months of work by Girringun to connect historic culture and art to the world outside of Far North Queensland. “Through digital innovation we are able to be in a world at the click of a button, or a scan of a code.  By putting Girringun into the world digitally, we are able to not only grow our visibility and network but attract the economics of a global marketplace to our front door,” said Arts Manager, Joann Russo. 

Minister for Digital Economy and Minister for the Arts Leeanne Enoch congratulated Girringun via video. “Congratulations to the Girringun Art Centre on this landmark initiative and innovative approach to growing audiences and economic opportunities for First Nations Peoples.  It is great to be able to welcome you all to the official launch of Virtual Girringun.”  The Gala also celebrated the official opening of the newly refurbished Girringun Art Gallery, an ongoing curated exhibition program.  “This is another landmark occasion in the journey that we have been on for many, many, years, as an organization, as a people,” said CEO of Girringun, Phil Rist.  “This Gala is a first for our Art Centre and the Girringun Aboriginal Corporation, as we develop new innovations around promoting our work and telling our stories.” 

Showcased in the physical and virtual Girringun Gallery is a returned exhibition, which has been touring nationally for the last three years, called ‘Manggan, Gather, Gathers, Gathering’.  The Girringun Marketplace was also opened on the night, where beautiful art from local artists is on display and for sale. 

The event was catered by talented Chef and Teacher, Cathryn Clarke, and served by young volunteers from Tully State High School, Gilroy Santa Maria Collage, and Horsham College in Victoria. MC for the night was Jarron Andy, who is the first Indigenous Home Shopping TV presenter in Australia.  Claude Beeron opened the evening with the Welcome to Country, and Girringun Chairwoman, Patricia Hoolihan, also spoke about the significance of the night. “We move towards innovation, honour our Traditional Owners, Artists, Staff, Board, supporters and champions of the bold steps of our new Art Centre.”

Rist also announced two new fundraising programs. “The first campaign is one that will have a long- lasting economic impact on our community, our Native Nursery,” he said.  “Our opportunity is in the establishment of a native fruit and forest fruit production centre, that will not only promote our local produce, but create an ongoing employment pathway for our community.  Our ask is $100,000 per year for the next six years.”

“The second is dedicated to the Gulngay people.  We are very blessed to have Auntie Marj and Auntie Doris with us tonight, and we are doing this for these people. There are less than 25 people left and they are defined as an endangered culture.  Our elders Marjorie and Doris Kinjun desperately need our support, and Girringun is stepping up to the plate to coordinate a donation campaign to address their housing crises and support the community.  We have a target of around $200,000 to raise.”

Suzie Smith, who has dedicated 53 hectares of her land to the IPA and pledged $10,000 to the housing crises of Marjorie and Doris Kinjun, was recognized, and thanked for her generosity with a bouquet of flowers and a traditional shield, which she then donated back to Girringun to auction, with proceeds to be donated to the Gulngay donation campaign.

“In the past 12 months, Girringun Aboriginal Art Centre has made significant, forward-facing, achievements in digital adaptation, leadership, and commerce, that are both groundbreaking and community driven,” said Rist. 

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