By Jannah Lam
For millennia, Perth’s rivers have been of central importance to the Noongar people and one Perth artist is seeking to capture the special significance of our waterways.
According to author Jens Korff: “For the Noongar people, the Swan River is known as Derbarl Yerrigan, which literally translates to Narlak (Swan) Beeliar (River).”
The Swan and Canning Rivers greatly influenced how the City of Perth has developed.
The first three towns of the Swan Colony were Fremantle, Perth and Guildford with the river giving access to the inland areas.
Local artist Alan Muller focuses on the Swan and Canning Rivers in his paintings.
Born on Wardandi Noongar land (Margaret River) and having lived on Mooro Whadjuk Noongar land in the northern coastal suburbs of Perth, Muller feels a connection to the Noongar people.
“As a society we all need to be conscious that we all live on Noongar land,” said Muller.
Muller took part in a major competition known as the Black Swan Heritage Award at the Lincoln & Kay Gallery in Perth City.
Now in its third year running, it is starting to establish itself as a major event.
For the exhibition, Muller submitted a big drawing that is actually two paintings placed side by side to show the whole of Swan River which references the landscapes painted by Frederick Garling in 1827.
Muller says that through his work, he wants people to acknowledge and honour the thousands of years that the Noongar people have been here.
“Alan’s work ensures we consider time itself through season and the context of the universe and in this way there is strong reference to Whadjuk Noongar people,” said Gina Pickering, Media and Interpretation Officer at the National Trust (WA).
Muller’s work has touched the hearts of many and people have strongly connected with his paintings.