Local Aboriginal elders recognised in Shepparton mural

By Liz Mellino

Two local Aboriginal elders will be commemorated in a new mural being commissioned for Welsford St in Shepparton.

The late Aunty Geraldine Briggs and the late Aunty Elizabeth Morgan will be featured in the mural, which is the most recent instalment in Greater Shepparton City Council's Aboriginal Street Art Project.

Aiming to recognise our local indigenous community through art, stage three of the project will acknowledge the two female elders who were heavily involved in advocating for the rights of, and support for, Aboriginal people.

The mural, which will be painted on a wall of the Department of Health and Human Services building, will be completed by artist Matt Adnate who also painted the murals on the Goulburn Valley Water wall.

Mr Adnate said he expected the mural to take about five days to complete, with the design using black and white for the portraits and a strong colour in the background.

“Because I’m painting elders or people who are from a different time or have passed away, it’s a nice representation of people from the past,” he said.

“Painting in black and white imagery and grey scale creates a nice nod to the history but with the colourful background it still pushes the creativity and puts the imagery back into it.”

The mural subjects, Aunty Geraldine Briggs and Aunty Elizabeth Morgan, were both leaders in the community who dedicated time to improve the lives of Yorta Yorta people.

Aunty Geraldine Briggs spent many years campaigning for equal rights, particularly concerning citizenship, and was a founding member and past president of the National Council of Aboriginal and Islander Woman.

Aunty Elizabeth Morgan worked tirelessly to improve the lives of Aboriginal people, especially women and children, co-founding the Aboriginal Housing Cooperative, the Victorian Aboriginal Child Care Agency and many other vital services.

Yorta Yorta Nation Aboriginal Corporation chief executive and daughter of Elizabeth Morgan, Monica Morgan, said she was proud of her mother and felt the mural was a special tribute to a dedicated Cummeragunja woman.

“My mother was a very inspirational person, she carried her legacy right throughout her life ... she spent a lot of her life fighting for her people,” she said.

City of Greater Shepparton Mayor Seema Abdullah said DHHS approached council to have the mural painted on one of its walls, which fronts Welsford St overlooking the Goulburn River.

Cr Abdullah said council then consulted with the Yorta Yorta Nation Aboriginal Corporation, with its board of elders determining who they would like featured in the design.

“Art is something we are promoting and we want to make our places attractive and inviting — the idea is also we educate ourselves and others about out Aboriginal community,” she said.

“For council it is about education, it’s a process where we start those conversations and have that knowledge come to us through art.”

The Aboriginal Street Art Project has been part-funded by the Victorian Government.