Everett Johnson, Mervyn Johnson, Tokoko Watson and Melvin Johnson admire the painting of their ancestor George Johnson hanging at the Bundaberg Regional Art Gallery during NAIDOC Week.
Everett Johnson, Mervyn Johnson, Tokoko Watson and Melvin Johnson admire the painting of their ancestor George Johnson hanging at the Bundaberg Regional Art Gallery during NAIDOC Week. Max Fleet

Johnson family revisits history

FOUR generations of the Johnson family came together to catch a golden glimpse of their ancestor - tribal elder George Johnson - through a painting at Bundaberg Regional Art Gallery.

The oil and gold leaf portrait by well-known Aboriginal artist Ron Hurley, came out of the vault and straight on display at the gallery as part of NAIDOC Week celebrations.

NAIDOC Week ran from July 1-8 this year.

George Johnson's son, Merv, said it was special to see the painting, which was created in 1989, back on display.

"They brought it out for the whole week," he said.

"It's a very special week for people all over Australia to recognise our history and culture."

Mr Johnson said Mr Hurley had been his father's nephew.

"Ron had great respect for his elders," he said.

"Dad was his elder and had a lot of knowledge of his Gooreng Gooreng tribe."

Mr Johnson said his father had come to Bundaberg when he married his mother, Cecilia Appo, in 1937.

"I come from a family of 12 - (I've got) eight brothers and three sisters," he said.

Mr Johnson was able to bring his own family to the gallery this week, including his great-grandson Tokoko Watson.

Mr Hurley was the first Aboriginal person to graduate from the Queensland College of Art.

He went on to further develop his art practice to cover a range of mediums including painting, printmaking, ceramics, sculpture, photography, film and public art.

The artist's heritage is also the Gooreng Gooreng people - from coastal central Queensland - as well as the Muninjali people from Beaudesert.

His artworks have been held in state and national collections including the Queensland Art Gallery and the National Gallery of Art.

Mr Hurley died on November 3, 2002.



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