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Ron Hurley
RONALD HURLEY
1946 - 2002

This website is a dedication to the life of one of Australia's leading Contemporary Aboriginal artists, Ronald Hurley. Ron was the first Aboriginal artist to totally consummate the marriage between Aboriginal and Western Art. The site will provide an opportunity to learn about his amazing art, career and life, and will also keep you up to date on the future Retrospective Exhibition being planned by his family.

Ron was born in the suburb of Mt Gravatt, in Brisbane, Queensland on 19 October 1946. The son of Amelia Johnson and Archibald Driscoll, he is from the Goreng Goreng people on his mothers side, and the Muninjali people on his fathers side. Ron's family totem is 'Gnyala' - the Owl. His personal totem is 'Wajgan' - the Willy Wag Tail. Naturally gifted, Ron showed outstanding skill from an early age in areas of sport and art - he was a high achiever in athletics, cricket and football, and he topped his classes in art throughout his primary and secondary education. His love and talent for art grew and saw him develop his first exhibition at the age of 19 at McDonald and East (a popular retail store much like today's Myers and David Jones stores), in 1966. In this year, on August 6th, Ron married Colleen Rose Kirk, from Cherbourg. They have two children Angelina and Simon.

Ron studied at the Queensland College of Art from 1973 to 1975, and then at the Brisbane College of Advanced Education Kelvin Grove from 1976 to 1977. He was the first Aboriginal person to graduate from the Queensland College of Art. Ron worked constantly throughout his career from his first job as a sign writer and commercial artist, to later on as an arts manager, curator, teacher and lecturer. Ron's achievements were many, the following are just a few:

He was awarded the Australia Council for the Arts, Residency at the Cite des Arts in Paris, and exhibited at the Australian Consulate.
He co-designed the winning image for the Sydney Olympics 2000 bid.
He was the first artist to initiate and facilitate artistic workshops to the Indigenous communities of far north Queensland specifically Aurukun during his time working with the Flying Art School.
His awards include the Ian Fairweather Memorial Prize, Redcliff Arts Prize, Gatton Art Prize, and NAIDOC National Poster Competition.
Artists residencies at Queensland University of Technology, Kelvin Grove Campus, and Capricornia Campus, Rockhampton.

Ron also held numerous positions of expertise and authority including:

Being the first Aboriginal member of the Board of Trustees of the Queensland Art Gallery.
The Chair of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Arts Board of the Australia Council for the Arts.
The Chair of the Indigenous Reference Panel, Indigenous Export Project Team, Queensland Government, State Development, which developed the exhibition 'Gatherings', launched at CHOGM in Brisbane in March 2002. This exhibition showcased Queensland Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander artists to the world.

Ron's first passion however was for producing art. His amazing skill, knowledge and talent spanned all areas of the arts industry; specifically Australian Indigenous art, and crossed various media including ceramics, paintings, sculptures, photography and film, public art (with numerous commissions), lino and screen prints, clothing, jewellery and even furniture.

Ron's work is exhibited and collected widely both nationally and internationally. His most famous painting 'Bradman Bowled Gilbert' (1989) was purchased by the Queensland Art Gallery in 1990. Ron's work was often based on historical and political figures, and examining the plight of Aborigines in urban society. Ron refused to adopt the dot painting style that stereotypes many Aboriginal artists.

Commenting on his art in contemporary Australian culture Ron stated that:

"'Traditional Aboriginal art forms have always had their fair share of exposure and promotion. Stereotyping, being what is it, relegated these forms to the realm of kitsch. At long last the world is responding in a more positive manner, and traditional art is being looked at in its rightful context. It is the very fibre of our country's imagery. The urban Aboriginal situation is the one which captures my imagination, for it is here that one experiences "limboism", being neither Black or White, so I am told. A world of such extreme contrast is the one to which I have learned to respond, survive, and attempt to create in'."

Ron is highly respected as an artist not only throughout the arts industry but throughout Indigenous communities all over Australia. A proud Aboriginal man, Ron dedicated his whole artistic life to his homelands in Queensland and his Aboriginal culture. Ron was a mentor for Australian Indigenous Young and Emerging Indigenous Artists and was a tireless campaigner, advocate and promoter of Australian Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Art and Culture. Ron's career spanned over 4 decades. He passed away on 3 November 2002.