150 metre fence along the Maribyrnong River

Mural by Ash Firebrace and Tom Civil. Painted March/April 2017.

I’d like to begin this post by recognising and paying my respect to the Wurundjeri People who are the traditional owners of the land on which this mural project was created and pay my respects to Elders past and present.

We’re all learning along this path of collaboration. And for me this project challenged me on many of levels, mainly concerning working with a large company like Holcim, on the side fence surrounding their new cement plant – the Ferrari of cement plants at that – in the heart land of urban construction. Also the challenges of developing on a past mural along the Yarra River at Dights Falls, continuing my working collaboration with the Wurundjeri Land Council.

I was approached by Matt Shinners from Holicim with the idea to do a similar mural here on the Maribyrnong River along this 150 metre fence surrounding the upgraded plant. I proposed I could only do the project as a collaboration with a Wurundjeri artist or help facilitate the process for a Wurundjeri artist to do the job. After consultation with Aunty Gail Smith, Aunty Doreen Garvey Wandin and Aunty Julieanne Axford and others at the Wurundjeri Land Council it was suggested that Ash Firebrace and myself collaborate on the project.

Ash and I got stuck into it – developing the concept of an underwater river scene with swans and hands reaching in to catch fish. The hands are actually self-portraits of Ash and my hands made from tracing our hand shadows, Ash wanted this to represent a Wurundjeri person teaching a non-Indigenous person how to catch a fish in the old traditional way. We cutout the animals and key features from plywood and painted them down at the studio to later install them on the painted background on the 150 metre corrugated fence along the Maribyrnong! I mainly painted the more realistic animals and Ash painted traditional Wurundjeri patterns on top – we were both so excited with how this collaboration turned out. And the fact that we pulled off such a large and complicated project together!

The words on the mural read:
Womin jeka Wurundjeri balluk yearmen koondi biik
Welcome to the land of the Wurundjeri people

Nang-nak berrnat-to djerring Liwik biik ba yaluk ba ngayi ngabedin nang-nak berrnat-to waar.
Look after our ancestors land and waterways and they will look after you

The mural is along the bike path on the south side of the river opposite the big Heavenly Queen Chinese Temple with the huge Chinese sea-goddess Mazu gold statue, East of the bridge (near the Footscray Community Art Centre) leading into Footscray.


Rock Hopscotch

I had the pleasure of painting a ground painting at Angliss Children’s Centre in Footscray located not far from the Marybrynong River. The roughly 60 metre river winds through the courtyard play area of the Centre, my hope is for the kids to make there own games out of the river, rocks, fish, eels, yabbies, platypus, bushes and flowers!
A big thank you to Chantal Wynter for all her assistance organising and these photos, and everyone at the Centre for making this happen!


Walnut St Road Repair Mural

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This road mural is located along Walnut Street, Cremorne to identify it as a ‘Shared Zone’, where pedestrians occupy the street in conjunction with motorists. It alerts drivers to slow down and take care of other users.

The artwork is a bold topographic map and has multiple purposes: to illustrate a geographical vision and history of what lay below our roads before they were covered in bitumen, encouraging people to ask, ‘What was here before the city?’, ‘What was the lie of the land in this area?’ and  ‘What could our future cities look like?’ The mural creates the illusion of walking through a map and plays with scale, reminiscent of an immersive and altered reality in a computer game or maze.

The colours are intended to warm the space and bring in an earthy natural Australian association. They have been used as they contrast with traditional road marking colours. The curved lines and hand-painted aesthetic also act to mark the space as ‘different’ and to make it more pedestrian orientated. This is one of a number of place making initiatives being rolled out in local streets by Yarra Council. The intention of these place making initiatives is to create more liveable street environments that move local streets away from a purely transport function.



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