Aboriginal art makes Murray Bridge hospital a more colourful – and welcoming – place

A mural by artist Sam Gollan has been unveiled on the wall of the hospital's new emergency department.

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Wayne Champion, Sharon Perkin, Sam Gollan and Karl Meyer stand beneath the new mural at the Murray Bridge hospital. Photo: Peri Strathearn.

This new mural on the side of Murray Bridge Soldiers’ Memorial Hospital is huge, but it’s not Sam Gollan’s biggest work ever.

That honour goes to a work outside the new Royal Adelaide Hospital.

But it still has a special significance to the Ngarrindjeri and Kaurna artist: it is intended to make sure Aboriginal people feel comfortable about seeking health care whenever they need it.

A small crowd attended an unveiling ceremony beneath the four colourful panels, each about five metres high, on Monday morning.

“We wanted to build a piece talking about Aboriginal health and the community coming together,” Gollan said.

“The circle means coming together, working collaboratively; the outer reaches, that’s community services and health services; and the 18 lakinyeri (Ngarrindjeri clans) are in there.

“We wanted to create a piece that represents this region.”

Sculptor Karl Meyer helped Gollan realise her vision for the work after her idea was chosen from among half a dozen entered into a Country Arts SA competition for Indigenous artists.

Riverland Mallee Coorong Local Health Network executive Wayne Champion said it was important for the hospital to acknowledge the region’s traditional owners.

Other elements of the new emergency department’s design also paid homage to the Ngarrindjeri flag, he said, including a boomerang-shaped bench and 18 circles of pavers.