On the corner of Wellington Street and Vere Street in the Collingwood district of Melbourne, lies a large public housing block. These were constructed as part of the social housing movement across Melbourne in the 1960s and there are many similar tower blocks that still tower over different inner suburbs of the city.
In 2018, local artist Matt Adnate, who is known for using his work to promote conversation and public discourse, was commissioned by a street art collective Juddy Roller to dream up and paint this quite remarkable piece of art. At a height of around 50 meters, it is the tallest mural in the Southern Hemisphere and the bright colors make it visible from a long distance away. The local state government provided a grant of $150,000, which helped with logistics due to the sheer scale of the project.
The work depicts four members of the community who at the time of the unveiling lived inside the block it decorates. Photographs of local people were taken at the local community center and four individuals were used to symbolise the spirit of the community. It shows two children, Arden Watson Copley and Ni Na Nguyen (aged six and 10 at the time it was painted), both of who were being raised in the block of flats by single-parent mothers. One of the adults in the work is Badria Abdo, a refugee who made an arduous journey to Australia after spending years in a Kenyan refugee camp and Yulious Antares Taime, another immigrant who came to Australia from West Papua. This mural tells a story of togetherness among people from all backgrounds and walks of life. Their prominent positioning in this district has a role in entwining the local citizens with the rapidly developing infrastructure in the areas of Collingwood and Fitzroy around them.
Richard Wynne, influential politician and Labour MP at the time summed up the importance of the work with his words “It’s about celebrating pride in place and we want to really ensure that we remember just how important public housing is in the lives of people doing it tough.”
Know Before You Go
The mural sits on the corner of Wellington Street and Vere Street, an area of Melbourne well connected with trams and buses.