Two talented First Nations artists have transformed the River Murray and Mallee Aboriginal Corporation building in Berri, turning a bare wall into a spectacular mural. The beautiful piece tells the story of river flows and what it means to the riverine environment and the people of the Riverland region.
In April, Ngintait, Nganguruku and Yankunytjatjara man Daniel Giles, and Penangke and Walpiri woman Chloe Shorrock, combined their traditional and contemporary styles with stunning results.
Daniel said he wanted the Berri mural, commissioned as part of the Lower Murray Flow-MER program, to showcase the river and its vital role.
“It (the river) is a major, important thing that’s been around here long before people have been around,” he said.
“As people we have to find ways to take care of it. We do that through the use of our totems and things like that.”
Chloe – who said painting a mural with Daniel was a bucket list item – echoed Daniel’s statements about the importance of river flows.
“We need that water – we need it for the environment, we need it for our animals, on land and in water,” she said. “It’s an important resource to us as well.”
From start to finish, the painting process took more than five hours, and attracted plenty of compliments from passers-by.
While the final art piece turned out to be very different to the initial design concept, Daniel said this was often the case when he painted.
His art is fluid, he said, and he likes to work with what he has in hand and how he feels at the time.
Chloe was more particular and added beautiful details to the turtles’ shells, dots to the circles and colour to the meeting place.
Daniel said it was important that the mural reflect the distinct styles of the two artists, who both work as First Nations school support officers at Renmark High School.
“It was (about) embracing our differences – where we’re from, the art styles we know, the art styles we do, even to how we grew up and our different personalities,” he said.
“We wanted to embrace that and not have Chloe do something that’s similar to my artwork or I do something that’s similar to hers.”
A short timelapse video showing the painting process and narrated by Daniel and Chloe can be viewed on the Lower Murray Selected Area page.
Our work in the Lower Murray River Selected Area
The Lower Murray River is at the end of the Murray Darling Basin (MDB) system and includes the only estuary of the MDB, which connects to the Southern Ocean. Annual flow is variable, being influenced by inputs from the southern and northern basin, and rainfall and water extraction experienced in these regions. The Lower Murray River is complex, and includes the main river channel, anabranches, floodplain / wetlands, billabongs and stream tributaries. Being towards the end of the system, the Lower Murray River is wide and deep relative to upstream reaches, and significant flow is required for floodplain inundation. Our study area covers four different zones: floodplain, gorge, swamplands and the Lower Lakes and Coorong.