There's more public art in Murray Bridge than you might think

Murray Bridge Garden and Floral Art Club's Peter Crowley explores the city's public artworks with Fulvia Mantelli and Tegan Hale.

This post was contributed by Murray Bridge Garden and Floral Art Club’s Peter Crowley.

At the September meeting of the Murray Bridge Garden and Floral Art Club, committee member Peter Crowley gave a virtual presentation on the recently held Murray Bridge Public Art walk that he attended.

The walk, held on August 31 as part of the South Australian Living Artists Festival, was conducted by Murray Bridge Regional Gallery director Fulvia Mantelli and public arts officer, arts development, Tegan Hale.

“The walk gave participants the opportunity to discover the many sculptures and murals in and around Murray Bridge’s CBD and riverfront,” Mr Crowley said.

“I was so thrilled by the fact that nearly all participants in the walk had driven from Adelaide to be part of the day.

“Our visitors from Adelaide were so full of praise, not only of the art works viewed, but of all the recent developments undertaken and endorsed by the council.

“My, how much Murray Bridge has changed, said one; whilst another said Murray Bridge is definitely on their list of places to come back to and spend some time in.”

In delivering his presentation, Mr Crowley showed slides of each artwork viewed, explaining the piece and the artist or artists involved.

Each piece viewed told a story of Murray Bridge and the River Murray.

At the conclusion of the presentation, club members were invited to vote for their favourite piece of artwork presented.

Overwhelmingly the most popular was By the River, created by South Australian artist Morris Green.

“Morris Green created this piece, located in Seventh Street just down from Bridge Street, in 2020,” Mr Crowley said.

“By the River draws on the theme of our natural environment and pays tribute to the majestic Murray River and native blue wren.

“Painted in hyper-real detail, this vast landscape with its glistening waters and vivid fauna transports us straight to the riverbank, the home of many culturally significant bird species.”

Second most popular among club members was Flower Dreaming, created by Victorian artist Mike Makatron in 2020.

This piece appears on the wall of Murray Bridge Florist, 10 Seventh Street Murray Bridge.

“Flower Dreaming refers to the theme of Murray Bridge as a centre of food production and the importance of protecting our bee populations for the health of Murray Bridge as a food bowl,” Mr Crowley.

“The scene is busy with bees pollinating native flowers that float around a young woman dreamily lying in a field.

“The work also speaks of human interaction with nature, cultural diversity and youthfulness, with a rural feel that gestures toward our lush, green, open spaces.”

Coming in third was Welcome to Country, drawn by Ngarrindjeri artist Kevin Kropinyeri.

This 46-metre, hand-drawn mural is located along the wall of the art gallery in Sixth Street.

“Kevin devised and installed this mural as a welcome statement to all that visit Ngarrindjeri ruwi (land),” Mr Crowley said.

“The mural features many of the iconic nga:tja (totems) of Ngarrindjeri people, whose lands and waters span the reaches of the Murray River, Lower Lakes, Coorong and ocean.

“The ritjaruki (willy wagtail), the messenger, reminds us all: ya:ral-inti towun ruwangk nginti ngul-ildal Ngarrindjeri meli wunyil kanawi nankeriwan, kar yamalai ma:thawar alyenik ruwald Ngarrindjeri nguldi arndu – when you tread on this country, you should think of the Ngarrindjeri people and their ancestors, the first custodians of this land; the Ngarrindjeri welcome you all.

“The northern end of the wall features traditional Ngarrindjeri artefacts that are also symbolic of the old people, our ancestors.”

Wayne Day and Robyn Bensch inspect Philip Christian’s winning floral display at the September meeting of the Murray Bridge Garden and Floral Art Club. Photo: Peter Crowley.

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