Friday, December 1, 2023  
say kNOw
    17 October 2018  


1998 Tribes 'The mob' mural project
This NUAA project targeted young people who may have been at risk of contracting blood borne viruses such as Hep C. The project aimed to provide a space where the Tribe could discuss issues relevant to their experiences, especially with regards to Hep C, HIV and/or injecting drug use. There were a series of workshops, which ultimately led to the production of a 30 metre mural on the wall next to Redfern railway station:

‘Say kNOw to drugs: for the next generation’
Tribe members: Lesley, Andy, Darren, Debbie, Lizzie, Mick
Tutors: Karla Dickens, Dallas Clark, Kerrie McGrath

Phase one

Six core Tribe members met twice a week between September 1997 and May 1998. They were in control of the final decisions and process. After the decision to produce a public mural of education the Tribe then began to breakdown the procedure into achievable parts. Discussions were held about where the mural should be, what it should entail and whom it should be aimed towards.

During the bi-weekly meetings the Tribe had the opportunity to meet together over a healthy (and sometimes not quite so...) feed and brainstorm their ideas. Their main task was to locate an appropriate site. Several were suggested including the gym in Eveleigh St, the Central station tunnel and the station wall alongside Redfern railway. The Tribe then surveyed the community, speaking to everyone about their ideas for the location and content of the mural. Community BBQs were held and individuals were interviewed.

We spent a lot of time visiting other murals in the community, getting ideas and feeding inspiration.

Finally it was decided that the railway station wall would be the most appropriate. The Tribe felt strongly that it should be located somewhere of high profile and in an area which was seen by many people from different backgrounds and life experiences. They did not only want the community of Redfern to have access to their message.

Phase Two

The next phase of the project saw the employment of two community artists to coordinate tutorials with the Tribe about mural production and painting techniques. Karla and Dallas related well to the Tribe members and a strong rapport very quickly developed between all involved.

A practice mural was painted within the Settlement Neighbourhood Centre; this allowed each member of the Tribe to experience the process involved in mural production; for most it was the first time they had created a public art form. After this, each week the Tribe members would search through magazines, books, newspapers etc. to gain inspirational ideas for their own designs. The two tutors taught them about composing portraits, lettering and producing a design from their ideas. Each member worked on their own design which together provided stories about harm minimisation, community, safety, health, crime, loneliness and strength.

Once each Tribe member had their own design these were individually painted on the walls in the Settlement. A scaled colour drawing of the mural was then produced by one of the tutors and the Tribe took this out into the community to gain approval. It was shown extensively throughout the community and received an extremely positive response.

It was also shown to and supported by community organisations (including South Sydney Council).

Phase Three

South Sydney Council provided the financial assistance to have the wall high pressure cleaned and the Tribe was off! !!! Many passers by stopped to provide positive comments to the painters. The design was left on show during the long painting process and supporters signed a petition to show the extent of their support for the strong and positive message emerging in the mural. The Tribe, tutors and all involved were overwhelmed by the public and community support provided to them.

Phase Four

The final stage was to organise the launch of their mural. A letter was written to Archie Roach and Ruby Hunter to ask them if they would perform at the launch and at a performance night afterwards. They accepted and the Tribe members and community swelled with pride and excitement. The Launch was held on Saturday 21st June and was a great success. The whole community and many people from outside of the Block came to witness the Tribe members be rewarded with the pride of their community. [Kerrie McGrath]


Here are some of the final comments made by the Tribe members:

I heard about this project over the grapevine. I learnt how to draw. I learnt a lot from the project. The community love the mural and loved what the Tribes did about drugs.

I have been involved with this project from the start. I got a lot of enjoyment out of learning new skills like knowing how to paint properly. It was good, showed younger ones about knowing about drugs.

I heard about this through word of mouth, it gave me a lot of self-esteem. I felt pride in the we work we did. We got feedback from the railway workers, police, housing company and general public. I would like to be involved in another project where we can educate the children about the awareness about drugs.

Some of the things I got out of this project were self-esteem and hidden talents. I didn't know I was so good at drawing and painting. It was good, the community was proud of what we did. I would like to see a project working with kids to educate them.
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