Murran hosts first exhibition

February 6, 2024 BY

Kiri Tawhai is the first artist to exhibit in Murran's new gallery space. Photo: SUPPLIED

Kiri Tawhai has become the first artist to exhibit at Murran, a Geelong-based hub designed to support Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

The exhibition, titled Dabakan Koorliny (Walk Slowly), is an invitation to pause, to play, to take in beauty, to connect.

Tawhai, a Noongar, Ngāpuhi and Ngāti Tūwharetoa woman, said it wasn’t enough to merely present people with the idea of slowing down.

Kiri Tawhai is a multimedia artist and storyteller with a passion for sharing knowledge and respecting old ways of knowing and doing. Photo: MURRAN


Rather, she wanted the exhibit to actually create that response and “stop people in their tracks”.

“We need to take that time to heal and I think that’s something we can all relate to,” she said.

“Life has got to be about living.

“I’m someone that goes to marches and fights for reconciliation and does a lot of those things. This was definitely a way of going, ‘Why?’

“If we’re going to be fighting for this world, and we’re going to be fighting for ourselves…we need to be reminded why, and that’s the beauty that’s in the world.”

Murran opened its doors in December. Photo: SUPPLIED


The outcome is a varied and vibrant body of work that champions caring for Country and celebrates the wildflowers of Tawhai’s childhood home in the Pilbara that connect her to her ancestors.

The exhibition also includes what Tawhai refers to as a “yarn-style artwork”.

The social installation encourages viewers to draw the flowers of their own story and gain a deeper understanding of storytelling through art as a cultural practice.

“I want to have a conversation,” she said.

“You get to [ask] ‘What does she mean by this?’ and ‘What connection do I have with wildflowers and Country?’, ‘What’s my understanding of First Nations knowledge?’, and then have your turn to connect in with the theme and add your own thoughts.”

Part of the exhibit features 49 wildflower paintings each named for the song Tawhai was listening to when they were painted. Photo: SUPPLIED


Tawhai said she felt “extremely grateful and humbled and privileged” to be the first artist to have their work on show at Murran.

“I planned this knowing about Murran hub, knowing that it was open, really trying to invite people in, add this whole bunch of colour and really connect people with the space.”

Led by First Nations support organisation Ngarrimili, Murran comprises a retail store, gallery and café, along with a co-working space.

“The vision for Murran is to be a culturally safe and inclusive space for mob and also a space that the wider community can access and also feel empowered to be in,” Ngarrimili chief executive Bek Lasky, said.

Lasky said it had been “amazing” to watch Dabakan Koorliny come to life.

“We’re really excited to have Kiri as the first exhibition artist,” she said.

“Within hours of putting the artworks up, there were people coming in from the streets and looking at the artworks and asking questions, which was really powerful to see.”

Dabakan Koorliny will be on display through February.

For more information, head to murran.com.au