Ron Hurley Theatre | In Honour of Mt Gravatt Born Aboriginal Artist

Photo credit: Brisbane City Council /

Seven Hills Theatre is officially named Ron Hurley Theatre, in honour of Mt Gravatt born Aboriginal artist Ronald Hurley who passed away in 2002.

As part of the Seven Hills Hub, the Ron Hurley Theatre was recently upgraded to a 155-seat capacity theatre. The hub also includes an outdoor amphitheatre and performance space, and the soon-to-be-opened Jolly Centre, named in honour of Eris and Norm Jolly.

Ron Hurley,  regarded as one of the first Aboriginal artists to successfully mix Aboriginal and Western Art, was born on 19 October 1946. He is from the Goreng Goreng people on his mother’s (Amelia Johnson) side and the Mununjali people on his father’s (Archibald Driscoll) side. His personal totem is ‘Wajgan’ or the Willy Wag Tail.

He excelled in sports and arts even at an early age. At age 19, he had his first art exhibition. He was the first Aboriginal person to graduate from the Queensland College of Art, earning a Degree in Visual Arts in 1975.

Photo credit: Ron Hurley/

Hurley had an illustrious and diverse career beginning as a signwriter and commercial artist, then to as an arts manager, curator, teacher, and lecturer. Hurley earned numerous achievements including:

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  • Australia Council for the Arts award, residency at the Cite des Arts in Paris, and exhibit at the Australian Consulate.
  • Artistic designer of the highly acclaimed Sydney 2000 Olympic Games Bid Logo, in partnership with Minale Tattersfield Bryce and Partners.
  • The first artist to initiate and facilitate artistic workshops to the Indigenous Artistic communities of far north Queensland specifically Aurukun.
  • Awards including the Ian Fairweather Memorial Prize, Redcliff Arts Prize, Gatton Art Prize, and NAIDOC National Poster Competition.
  • Arts residencies including Queensland University of Technology, Kelvin Grove Campus, and Capricornia Campus, Rockhampton.
  • Hurley was the judge on the panel of the very 1st Telstra Indigenous Art Award in Darwin, alongside curator Djon Mundine.

He also held positions of expertise and authority:

  • He was the first Aboriginal member of the Board of Trustees of the Queensland Art Gallery from 1996 to 1997.
  • He chaired the Visual Arts Committee of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Arts Board of the Australia Council for the Arts from 1993 to 1996.
  • He chaired the Indigenous Reference Panel, of Queensland’s Indigenous Arts Marketing Export Agency (QIAMEA), with State Development from 2000 to 2002.

Ron Hurley is best remembered for his significant contributions to the arts, specifically the Australian Indigenous art crossing different media such as paintings, sculptures, ceramics, photography and film, lino and screen prints, clothing, jewellery, and furniture.

Hurley often based his work on political and historical figures, and the plight of Aborigines in the urban society. The urban Aboriginal situation, he once commented on his art in contemporary Australian culture, is the one that captures his imagination because it is where one experiences being neither Black or White.

Hurley dedicated most of his career, that spanned over four decades, advocating the artistic, cultural, and human rights of the indigenous communities.