Regional Arts chair Thomas Manning says the project was designed to celebrate significant and inspirational people from across the entire Big Rivers region, with the town as the meeting place for all local people and cultures.
There are nine murals with others being added. They are part of Katherine Town Council’s overall CBD Revitalisation project and link the arts trail between Godinymayin Yijard Arts and Culture Centre and Mimi Arts. They create vibrant outdoor spaces along Railway Terrace for future events, such as a laneway series.
“The murals tell of struggle, injustice, achievement, courage and triumph,” says KRA Executive Officer Jacinta Mooney. “The stories provide a window into the past.” The flood mural, designed by local resident Mandy Tootell, commemorates the devasting 1998 Katherine floods. It was installed by Jordan Conrad and Kaff Eine, from Proper Creative, Darwin.
A collaboration of local artists, Proper Creative, is known for their fantastic street artwork. To complement commemorative events held at the Cenotaph, RAAF Fighter Jets Over Nitmiluk Gorge highlights the significant and longstanding connection the military has in Katherine. It was designed by Territory artists Dave Collins and installed by Jesse Bell from Proper Creative.
The recent portraits in the Katherine CBD tell stories of people who have shaped the region’s heritage. “Individually, these famous people have their own story to tell. Together, their recognition and respect are celebrated. These murals ensure their stories are never forgotten.” Neighbour, also installed by Jesse, is an incredible story of a heroic Alawa man from Hodgson Downs.
In 1911, he saved a policeman from drowning in the Wilton River while under arrest and in chains himself. He was awarded the Albert Medal for his honesty and bravery. More murals installed by Jesse include Cherry Wulumirr Daniels, who received an Order of Australia for services to the Ngukurr community; and Robert Lee and Ray Fordimail, Jawoyn elders and champions of the Jawoyn Land Claim and handback of Nitmiluk National Park 31 years ago; and the late inspirational Australian actor, renowned artist and instigator of Djilpin Arts and Culture and Walking with Spirits Festival, Balang T E Lewis.
Katherine youth, helped by Jesse, created the Indigenous stockman on horseback. Crocodile was designed and installed by Libre Hem and Katherine High School students, while Bats and Mangoes was designed and installed by Chloe Forscutt and Mackinlay Collings and Katherine youth.
“Local businesses and building owners have also been extremely supportive,” says Jacinta. The projects have been made possible through partnering between Katherine Regional Arts, local artists, Katherine Town Council and the Territory Government. TQ
NIDA LOWE (1932-2009)
Nida Lowe, more commonly known as Auntie Nida, is a child of the Stolen Generations who made Katherine her home after the Second World War. Her portrait, installed by Jesse Bell, commemorates her amazing journey from Brunette Downs to Groote Eylandt and later Croker Island – then her epic trip in 1941 by boat, foot, truck and train to New South Wales with missionaries and 94 other stolen children. It’s also a tribute to her kindness and support for many throughout the years. Nida had 12 children. Many more grandchildren and great grandchildren still live in Katherine. Her daughter, Maddie Bower, and grandson Joseph Perner were at the unveiling on 4 June and were overjoyed with the portrait.