Colourful mural depicts strength and struggle

Tammy Wykes, Rahai Gray and Nykita McNeair start work on the Radio Theatre mural at Yanay Yanma Hall at Beachlands earlier this year.

Tammy Wykes, Rahai Gray and Nykita McNeair start work on the Radio Theatre mural at Yanay Yanma Hall at Beachlands earlier this year.

“Just a minute, I’ve got something to say – and I want you all to listen.”

These words of the late Aboriginal Elder, Alice Nannup, will be immortalised (for the foreseeable future anyway) on the front of the Old Radio Theatre on Marine Terrace, Geraldton.

In February of this year, Bundiyarra Aboriginal Community Aboriginal Corporation (BACAC) held a ‘come yarn with us’ community consultation about the City of Greater Geraldton’s City Vibrancy strategy.

The City funded the project for a mural to be painted on the front of the building and Bundiyarra Board Member Bianca McNeair gathered together a group of enthusiastic people and got to work.

“This was such a great opportunity,” said Ms McNeair, “this project is about breaking down the walls and making Aboriginal people visible.

“And it’s also about preserving some of our stories.”

The story depicted in this mural is very relevant to this location as it tells of the time Elder Joan Gray’s mother, Alice Nannup, stood up in front of the audience at the Radio Theatre in the 1950s - when Joan was about 10 years old - and confronted them about racist taunts towards her children.

“It is a significant example of Aboriginal struggle and strength and is directly linked to the site of the mural,” said Ms McNeair.

With permission from Joan Gray (daughter of Alice Nannup) an excerpt from the book When the Pelican Laughed, by Alice Nannup was presented as a reference to this event.

Five generations are represented on the mural and four generations worked on it. The design includes images of Alice Nannup and her family, including great granddaughter Rahni Gray and great-great granddaughter Isabelle. The mural will tie five generations of Alice Nannup’s family together to show the connection of strength this one event has brought through to the present day family and community.

Along with text from the event at the Radio Theatre, the mural will include local flowers and Aboriginal Art designs.

Artists for the Mural include Joan Gray, Rahni Gray, Tammy Wykes, Diane Gray, Isabelle Gray and Nykita McNeair.

“The Bundiyarra City Vibrancy Mural Committee and artists are very excited about the project and look forward to adding to the current vibrant murals along Marine Terrace, and thank the City of Greater Geraldton for this wonderful opportunity,” Ms McNeair said.

City of Greater Geraldton Mayor, Ian Carpenter, said the City was pleased to partner with Bundiyarra on this project.

“The City has invested considerable time and resources into the vibrancy strategy which is already resulting in both historic and positive artistic outcomes for the community,” he said.

“The City has in place a Reconciliation Action Plan which encourages cooperation with Aboriginal people and the wider community and projects like these fit this mould perfectly.”

The community is invited to see the mural panels revealed on Saturday 8 August between 12 and 1pm and good, old fashioned popcorn will delight all those who make it along.