So as you all know by now I’m an Aboriginal Artist. I’ve been really fortunate to be able to collaborate with different groups with some unique projects – but then my good friend Emma messages me: “are you interested in doing some street art?” She asks. “Hells yes I want to do some street art! Tell me more!”
It turned out that her sister Claire, owner of the Tin Cat Cafe on Rundle street, an Adelaide institution. She, frustrated with the council response to her request to decrease the speed limit on Little Rundle Street where her cafe backs on to, which is only wide enough to fit one car and is currently a 50kph speed zone, started a campaign to get some attention. And then the Little Rundle Street Art project was born. She went door to door asking permission to paint on walls and fences, to make Little Rundle Street such a spectacle that one would have no choice but to slow down to admire all the amazing street art. She then won a cultural grant from the Fringe Festival and thus it became part of the Fringe Festival! She showed me the wall she had in mind for me…. It was… Large.
Like huge. Genuinely monsterous! 95 square meters big. So I went home and talked it over with my husband who was super supportive and said I couldn’t not do it. So preparations were made, permission sought and we were ready to start! I painted a concept piece called Municipal Gum – taken from one of my favourite poems by Aboriginal poet Ooderoo Noonuccal, of which I’ll elaborate on later. I gave an interview to a team from Channel 9 about the fringe. It was a serious sit down interview and they asked me what experience did I have working on this scale and how would I do it? My answer? None, and I have no idea – I’m basically going to wing it. I’ll just do it in the same basic method and hope for the best!!! The day before I was due to start I had a freak out; I was so overwhelmed by the size, so I contemplated another smaller wall. Then Emma said: “why not do both??” ….why not?!?
We went down a couple of Sundays ago to paint the base. We had some helpers, but my husband did much of it – all of the high stuff anyway!
The following day I went back, alone. It was then that I realised that I would need to get up higher. And I don’t like heights. I did as much as I could down low and then I heard a repetitive beeping that I would come to know intimately – the sound of the scissor-lift. Those things look stable but they are as rickety as anything when you extend them up. The good thing is that it tells you when you’re up too high or on uneven ground! I became inovative and taped a paint-market to an extender-pole so that I could draw the lines and maintain much needed perspective.
Then it was time for the dots!! I decided to try my hand at using aerosols! I tried to get the best looking, cleanest dots I could in a timely manner and none of the nibs (the lid) were giving my dots I was happy with – so I drew a stencil and then sprayed through it, repeating it.
I am absolutely thrilled with the way it’s turned out. I’m so freaking happy with it and proud of everyone’s efforts! I had so much help and I am so utterly grateful for the help! So this is what I wrote about this piece, as taken from my Aboriginal Art Facebook page:
Rundle Street, Kent Town.
“Gumtree in the city street,
Hard bitumen around your feet,
Rather you should be
In the cool world of leafy forest halls
And wild bird calls
Here you seems to me
Like that poor cart-horse
Castrated, broken, a thing wronged,
Strapped and buckled, its hell prolonged,
Whose hung head and listless mien express
Municipal gum, it is dolorous
To see you thus
Set in your black grass of bitumen–
O fellow citizen,
What have they done to us?”
This piece, entitled “municipal gum”, after Oodgeroo Noonuccal’s poem. This is a piece about growth, and struggle. The challenges that come with personal growth. In this piece, I have depicted the concept of growth and of challenge; in the growth rings of the red gum. Each ring on the cross-section of a tree represents something about that season. Perhaps it was a year of bounty – of glorious rain and sunshine. Perhaps it was a year of low-rain fall and concrete placed around its base to make room for a footpath or a roadway. A year of challenge and conflict. Each ring tells a story. Each ring is different. In the poem, Oodgeroo speaks of foreign challenges; of majestic gums surrounded by colonisation, at odds with its own natural existence. In a similar vein, as an Aboriginal Australians, we too have been scarred by colonisation. Of stolen children. Of genocide. Of dispossession. But we grow, we heal, we survive, we thrive. In this respect – we really aren’t that different. We all must adapt, we all have stories to tell; stories that we carry within us always.
Tis Done. What an absolutely monumental effort. I absolutely could not have done this alone. Massive shout out to Claire, Emma, Danae, Melissa, Ruby, Lainey, James, Jason and Jack for all their help – it was deeply appreciated.
To all my online peeps; thanks for your words of support and encouragement! It means a lot!
Finally – to my husband and children; who are truly my biggest supporters; Without their love, patience, understanding, support, flexibility and adaptability I would never succeed. Particularly my husband Matt, who cops the tasks of kid-wrangling, courier, base-painter, and who just generally always steps up when I take on mammoth endeavours like this – THANKYOU. Your support means more to me than I could ever put down in words. Thanks, and can we please have take-away for dinner?!!
On to piece number 2!!