Celebrating Our Indigenous Community

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By John Kerrens

 

Over three days in August, Melbourne street artist Adnate painted a larger than life mural at the Peanut Farm Reserve pavilion in St Kilda. The artwork referenced former indigenous AFL champion Nicky Winmar.

Commissioned by the City of Port Philip, the mural depicts Bunjil the eagle, the creator spirit for the local Boon Wurrung people and two young Aboriginal players from the St Kilda City football team. The image establishes the Reserve as a gathering place for the local indigenous community.

The two players, brothers Jake and Jesse Firebrace, who live in South Melbourne and attend Elwood Secondary College, are the only indigenous players at the club. “They were over the moon to be asked,” said the boys’ father.

In the mural, one of the young players is shown lifting his jersey and pointing to his own skin – a reference to a famous incident in which St Kilda player Nicky Winmar, responding to racist taunts by opposition supporters. He lifted his jersey defiantly, pointing at his own dark skin. It was a pivotal moment in AFL race relations and went a long way towards exposing the racial sledging that had previously been regarded as little more than a useful tactic for throwing an opponent off his game.

The council set aside $18,000 in this year’s budget to commission the work, prepare the pavilion wall and for maintenance. A further $2000 has been allocated for maintenance to 2017.

Adnate is a Melbourne-based street artist, an original member of the AWOL crew, one of the first art collectives to show their work at the National Gallery of Victoria.

Earlier this year, Adnate was commissioned to create a 23 metre tall mural of a young Aboriginal person on McDonald House at Hosier Lane in the CBD. St Kilda Mayor Amanda Stevens said the mural helps create Indigenous ownership and representation of the space and reinforces Council’s commitment to the reconciliation process.

“This artwork is a powerful and contemporary embodiment of our Indigenous community in a public space and reinforces Council’s commitment to representing that community,” she said. Mayor Stevens went on to say “The Peanut Farm Reserve precinct, including the Inner South Community Health Service, has been a meeting place for the Indigenous community for years. Council has hosted free barbeques at the reserve for several years to foster that sense of belonging,” she said.

The local Indigenous Network and traditional owners were consulted on the project and have given it their full support.

Examples of Adnates work can be seen at demandattention.com.au.

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