RISING’s all First Peoples Melbourne Art Trams return to the tracks for 2022

RISING-Reproduction-of-Tram-No.-829-(1991)-by-Lin-Onus-(Yorta-Yorta)-photo-by-James-MorganHitting the tracks from today, six First Peoples-designed trams are set to roll out across the city, as part of Melbourne Art Trams 2022, presented by RISING in partnership with Creative Victoria, PTV and Yarra Trams.

“No public art project exemplifies Melbourne more that our art trams. This extraordinary First Peoples edition brings together an iconic tram from the past with stunning designs from contemporary artists for everyone to enjoy,” said Minister for Creative Industries, Danny Pearson.

For the second year running, stunning artworks, freewheeling character illustrations and exuberant designs from a selection of all First People’s artists will criss-cross Melbourne’s tram network in a travelling celebration of connection to country, culture and identity.

Curated by visual artist Jarra Karalinar Steel (Boonwurrung/Wemba Wemba), who herself featured as part of 2021 First Peoples Melbourne Art Trams, each tram in this year’s program responds to the theme Unapologetically Blak.

With all six trams rolling out over the next month, commuters and passers-by can watch the fleet of moving artworks wind their way across Naarm’s urban passageways, in a mobile exhibition of Blak Excellence, and personal expressions of First Peoples experience.

The six First Peoples presenting artists are: Lin Onus (Yorta Yorta); Louise Moore (Wamba); Patricia Mckean (Gundijtmara/Kirrae Wurrong); Dr Paola Balla (Wemba-Wemba/Gundijtmara); Tegan Murdock (Burapa); and Darcy McConnell / Enoki (Yorta Yorta/Dja Dja Wurrung).

“Showcasing First Peoples artists and creatives diverse forms of visual expression that challenge people’s preconceptions of what is Aboriginal Art, is something I’m deeply passionate about, and that’s why curating RISING’s First Peoples Melbourne Art Trams is such an honour,” said curator Jarra Karalinar Steel.

Unapologetically Blak to me means celebrating our joy, success, growth, and continued desire to be stronger as a people. Reclaiming space to express ourselves as artists and inspire the next generation, to share their experiences and stories that often go unheard and forgotten.”

“Each of the six artists’ designs this year, in very different ways do just that, and I’m incredibly proud for them to be shared with the city.”

The first tram to be released onto the network today as part of the 2022 program is by legendary artist and activist Lin Onus, who passed away in 1996. Working closely with guidance and support of Lin’s son, artist and performer Tiriki Onus, RISING is bringing back to life the original artwork from Lin’s Art Tram launched just over 30 years ago in November 1991.

The return of his design for the 2022 program tram will connect commuters and an important part of Melbourne’s history, as Lin’s work has had an immeasurable influence on the rise and development of First Peoples’ art in Australia.

Referencing cultural markings symbolic of country and First Peoples designs, Onus’ representations of balanced opposites – circles and triangles, day and night, and black and white cockatoos – will again play a vibrant feature in the city’s tableau.

From tomorrow and over the coming fortnight, the remaining five trams in the 2022 First Peoples Art Trams fleet will make their first appearances on the network. The striking and distinct array of works from Louise Moore, Patricia Mckean, Dr Paola Balla,Tegan Murdock, and Darcy McConnell (aka Enoki) include visual tributes to the wisdom of elders and family connection, depictions of ancestral skills and traditions such as weaving and bush dyeing, and celebrations of BLAK LOVE and cultural identity.

“I am so excited our distinctively Melbourne art trams are once more proudly rolling out as part of RISING’s new First Peoples series, onto the city streets and into our everyday lives,” said RISING co-artistic director, Gideon Obarzanek.

Thanks to Melbourne Art Trams Program partners PTV, Yarra Trams and Creative Victoria, the works will be showcased on the network for 12 months, featuring internal QR codes that enable travellers to find out more about the artists and their respective works as they go.

“We’re proud to once again have the work of First Peoples’ artists featured on all of the Melbourne Art Trams this year as part of RISING,” said Minister for Public Transport, Ben Carroll MP.

“I look forward to seeing these works of art travelling across the tram network, adding to our city’s vibrant culture while sharing the stories and expressions of First Peoples’ artists.”

The RISING Festival takes place across Melbourne from 1 – 12 June 2022. For more information, visit: rising.melbourne for details.

Image: Reproduction of Tram No. 829 (1991) by Lin Onus (Yorta Yorta) – photo by James Morgan