The first step in the City of Sydney’s Eora Journey and Welcome to Redfern, at 36 Caroline Street, will be launched at a public celebration on Saturday 23 March, from 2pm-5pm.
A striking new mural covering an entire terrace house in Redfern now stands as a landmark and monument to the neighbourhood’s Aboriginal history, activism, community and culture.
Welcome to Redfern, by internationally celebrated artist Reko Rennie and a group of local young Aboriginal artists, has transformed a Victorian-era terrace at The Block with vibrant graphic designs and murals of inspiring Aboriginal leaders.
Lord Mayor Clover Moore said the eye-catching Redfern terrace marked the beginning of the City of Sydney’s visionary Eora Journey program.
“Through Sustainable Sydney 2030 program, our community told us they wanted more recognition in the public domain of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander culture and heritage,” the Lord Mayor said.
“The Redfern Terrace is one of seven major public art projects that will make up the Eora Journey – a trail that takes people to a range of sites around Sydney that are significant to Aboriginal peoples.
“It will reassert out Aboriginal past and celebrate this ancient and living culture with public art, a knowledge and cultural centre, a major annual event, and an economic plan to help the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community achieve equality as students, employees and business owners.
“Reko Rennie’s temporary mural is the first exciting stage of that project. This terrace will eventually house a living museum of Redfern and The Block, which has played an important role in the life of Aboriginal peoples in Sydney.
Curator Hetti Perkins and architect Julie Cracknell devised the Eora Journey’s seven public art projects and Ms Perkins said the Redfern Terrace mural was an important first step.
“Welcome to Redfern brings a new artistic voice to the area and, most importantly, one that resonates with younger community members,” Ms Perkins said.
“This is a project that represents our present, imagines the future and honours our past.”
Artist Reko Rennie, who also transformed the T2 building at Taylor Square, developed Welcome to Redfern with eight young Aboriginal artists, to reinvigorate an historic Caroline Street terrace, after the community asked for a space to show young people’s work.
The building was painted in large stripes using the colours of the Aboriginal flag and then embellished with paste-ups of ‘local heroes’, including colonial leader Pemulway and activists Charles Perkins and Mum Shirl.
The Archibald Prize 2012 finalist worked on the project with young artists Nahdia Noter, Trae Campbell, Ji Duncan-Weatherby, Tyrrelle McGrath, Brandon Phillips, Isaac Phillips, Josh Addo and Josh Nolan.
Mr Rennie, a Kamilaroi man whose family hail from Walgett in northwest NSW, said he hoped the community and visitors would connect and engage with the artwork.
“These young artists have grown up in, and around The Block, and the imagery is a colourful reminder of these incredible leaders to make sure the next generation will remember them, too,” Mr Rennie said.
The young artists attended workshops with Mr Rennie to learn street art techniques such as stencilling, projection and freehand spraypainting, but he also taught them the importance of self-belief.
“We talked about how art can benefit an individual, and how success as an artist can be measured, such as by the ability to travel and work in other communities,” Mr Rennie said.
“I have been inspired by these eight young artists we chose for the project: they were full of ideas, enthusiasm and I can’t wait to see them develop their careers as artists, or whatever they choose to pursue.”
Young artist Nahdia Noter said she enjoyed working with Mr Rennie on a project that showed their pride in Redfern’s culture.
“The project represents the history of Redfern and promotes the good work that goes on in the community and goes unrecognised,” Ms Noter said.
Launching alongside Welcome to Redfern on 23 March is Mana-ngurang, the Elders’ Lounge mural at Redfern Community Centre, created by Charles ‘Chicka’ Madden, Nicole Monks and Dirk Anderson.
The laser-cut plywood work, with sandstone detail, wraps around the mezzanine level of the Redfern Community Centre and is made from eco-friendly materials.
Mr Madden said the plywood was cut with rock art designs of inland and coastal animals from the Sydney basin, or Gadigal lands.
Community members from all over Sydney are invited to join the Lord Mayor for the unveiling of Welcome to Redfern and Mana-ngurang and the official launch of the Eora Journey.
To celebrate the start of the project, from 2pm-5pm on Saturday 23 March, the Redfern Community Centre, at 29-53 Hugo Street, will host Eora Journey: the peoples’ journey!
The fun day will include entertainment by Save the Children (DJ Bus) and Redfern Community Centre Youth Group.
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