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2019 GAMAA WINNER: Dr Valerie Keenan


Dr Valerie Keenan
Art Centre Manager, Girringun Aboriginal Art Centre, Cardwell, North Queensland

Valerie is recognised for the sustained effort and dedication she has shown in her position as Art Centre Manager at the Girringun Aboriginal Art Centre and Keeping Place Museum. Valerie has worked with the centre from the outset in 2008 when it first received full-time funding. Since then, she has applied for and received significant grants for projects and for individual artists from a wide variety of funding bodies.

With a huge workload from the beginning, Valerie has enabled real jobs for staff, volunteers and trainees. Her multiple duties have included: arts program development, business plan development; staff hire, training and funding; administration; grant writing and acquittals; exhibition development; professional development opportunities; media and promotion; merchandise development; and research – not to mention, bus driver; cook; and more.

Under Valerie's guidance, major highlights for the centre have included solo and group shows in places such as Monaco, Paris, Canada, and numerous Australian venues. Girringun artists are represented in major collections including the British Museum, National Gallery of Australia, National Museum of Australia, and many private collections.

Under Valerie's direction, the centre has successfully completed public art projects in Monaco and many in Australia, including the Queensland Rail Tilt Train Art+Place Project, Bagu on the Foreshore in Cardwell, Strand Ephemera in Townsville, and most recently at the Cairns Performing Arts Centre.

A major exhibition of Girringun artists’ works, Manggan - gather, gathers, gathering, is currently touring to five states of Australia by M&G QLD through Visions of Australia funding.

Valerie has supported staff and artists to undertake professional development, and facilitated many opportunities for staff and artists to attend museums and galleries to learn about collections, attend and speak at exhibitions, and have their work acquired.

During this time, she has completed her PhD, and was personally awarded the Vida Lahey Memorial Travel Scholarship 2019 (Queensland Art Gallery | GOMA) to research Norwegian Explorer Carl Lumholtz who undertook exploration of parts of the Girringun region in the 1880s. Findings from this study will result in an exhibition and be included in the Girringun archives. Valerie is currently in Norway undertaking this study.

GAMAA Judge, Robert Ryan, Mackay Regional Council with Dr Valerie Boll, accepting an award on behalf of Dr Valerie Keenan, Girringun Aboriginal Arts Centre – Winner of Individuals: Paid Staff category. Photograph by Blueclick Photography, courtesy of M&G QLD.

Banner image: 2019 GAMAA trophies created by Queensland artist Lucy Quinn. Photo: Andrea Higgins, courtesy of M&G QLD.


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