A RIVERLAND skate park became the canvas for bold murals created by Aboriginal youth guided by professional and emerging artists over the April school holidays.
Contemporary Aboriginal artist Scott Rathman visited the region from Adelaide to work with local 19 young people aged 10 to 17 in a three-day workshop to create bold street art at the Renmark Skate Park focused on the First People of the Murray River and Mallee.
He was supported by Riverland artists Daniel Giles and Aunty Sheryl Johnson, who helped facilitate the project and ensure it was culturally appropriate to the region, as well as develop their capacity to deliver another public mural as a follow-up initiative.
Regional agency ac.care led the school holiday project after youth worker Nicole Honey identified the mural opportunity with users of the Darnley Taylor Park facility.
She said local Aboriginal young people were key contributors to the project, putting forward design ideas as skate part users and helping create the street art.
As a key driver of the project, she works to provide opportunities for young people, particularly in the arts, and said the school holiday activity created valuable mentoring opportunities for local Aboriginal artists, while enhancing the public space to be more welcoming and inclusive.
“The project created a vibrant mural for the skate park, while providing meaningful activity for local Aboriginal young people over the school holidays, developing their art skills and confidence,” Nicole said.
“We hope the project will enhance the sense of belonging young people feel in this community space, feeling more connected with their community and a sense of cultural pride.”
Scott is an Arrernte descendant who has lived the majority of his life in Adelaide, but was born in Loxton and spent his formative years growing up in Berri, continuing to visit family in the region regularly.
The rich design in his work is a tribute to his grandmother, who was a member of the Stolen Generation, and his curiosity to explore and understand his cultural background is the passion that drives him to continue to look at new ways to combine the traditions of his heritage with designs of the present day.
Scott enjoys creating artworks in public places as a reminder Aboriginal people are still here and their culture is still as important today as it has always been.
Recognised as the 2019 NAIDOC Awards Riverland Non-Aboriginal Worker of the Year, Nicole is involved in ac.care’s Opening Doors and STAY (Service to Aboriginal Youth) support programs for young people in the region.
The project was made possible by the Australian Government's Regional Arts Fund, which supports the arts in regional and remote Australia, and was the recipient of a Country Arts SA Step Out Grant.
Renmark Paringa Council also supported the skate park project.
ac.care can be contacted on 1300 ACCARE (1300 22 22 73).