How exciting it is to be here, in celebration of this wonderful and powerful community public artwork.
I wish to acknowledge and thank the funders of this project, the Uniting Church Asset Strategy Program, the Manningham City Council Community Grants Program and the Kirk Robson Theology and Arts Memorial Fund. I especially thank Peter and Natalie Robson for being here today it is an honour to host you and we hope we have honoured Kirk’s memory through this project.
There was a lot of behind-the-scenes work as is the case with any great project, I’d like to personally thank Helen Bartlett, Zoe McLachlan and Bob Bairstow who are all volunteers that made up the Mural Team that made this project a reality.
Thanks to Davey Warnock from Manningham Gallery of Art, Christina Rowntree and Roger Archbold who provided art industry expertise to enable this project to be ethical and professional.
Like all good expeditions, it is often the journey that is full of richness not just the outcome. The creation of this mural is no exception to this, although don’t get me wrong the outcome is amazing.
The journey of creation of this mural was full of learning, connection making, gratitude, generosity, relationship building, storytelling and hospitality. It is these things I wish to share with you today as they are not necessarily evident in the finished product.
Thanks to the recommendation and blessing of Charley Woolmore, from Wurundjeri Woi Wurrung Cultural Heritage Aboriginal Corporation, in 2020 we engaged Robert Michael Young to design and install an Indigenous mural on the theme community to form the central part of this 5-part mural. MUC acknowledges that this centre is on Wurundjeri land and wished to emphasise this with this prominent indigenous mural. Robert’s artwork has strong markings representing indigenous culture and visually shows the dawning of a new day, celebrating First Nation’s people. We remain committed to reconciliation with First Nation’s people and creating opportunities for more dialogue with the Wurundjeri people and opportunities to listen to story.
In December of 2021 we appointed Katherine Gailer (otherwise known by her artist name Katira) to undertake a series of community engagement design workshops and from this create and install the remaining four parts of this mural.
Four workshops were held on four pre-selected community topics, Social Justice and Equity, Refugees & Asylum Seekers, Sustainability & The Environment and Intergenerational.
Those who participated in the workshops were local Manningham people, from a variety of walks of life passionate about the topic areas, people with lived experience, people willing to give of their time and of themselves to create a public artwork with impact and meaning.
These carefully designed workshops motivated participants to engage in sharing exercises in which their individual ideas are valued and carried further as a driving force to create something new: a collective voice. By the end of each sessions each group produced one statement and a clear vision of the visual narrative for the mural. These statements shown on the opposite page are utterly beautiful and powerful.
Those who participated were people who had experienced the full breadth of the topic areas, people who are still waiting for recognition and acceptance, still waiting for true freedom, people who stand in solidarity with those who remain oppressed and marginalised, people who have experienced both exclusion and inclusion. People with vision and commitment for a community of equity, sustainability and belonging.
We at MUC are incredibly grateful for each and every one of the mural design workshop participants. For your willingness to volunteer your time, contribute your lived experience and wisdom, to offer your passion and insight, for showing up and participating with such openness. It is because of you that this mural is so rich with meaning and so compelling to look at and be moved by.
We hope that you can see your contribution reflected in the artwork on the wall and that you gained as much as you contributed.
The workshops were also planned with hospitality and fellowship in mind, each workshops group shared in a meal of soup together. Soup lovingly made and served by MUC volunteers, sincere thanks to these volunteers, your generosity and hospitality added such a great deal of value and was appreciated – there’s something special about gathering for a home cooked meal, this was purposeful. And to Katira, Katherine Gailer – you held space for voices to be heard in the most remarkable way, you lead with conviction to the process of creating a collective voice with integrity and you have produced a most stunning and formidable public artwork. Thank you for taking this journey with us, thank you for gifting the world with your art and talent and thank you for teaching us so much