A large spray art mural completed in the heart of Bairnsdale helped the city to prevent graffiti vandalism in the area. The mural is inspired by GunaiKurnai people history. It displays the journey of the Bogong moth and dingo finding their path from the mountains to the sea –a journey shared by the GunaiKurnai people.
East Gippsland Shire coordinated the project to engage young people in public art. This initiative helps local communities to feel a sense of ownership and pride in their local area. Moreover, the mural allows visitors to learn more about Aboriginal culture and stories.
The artists were young Aboriginal people, mentored and supported by local professional artists. Aboriginal youth included members of the Federation Training’s Koorie VCAL program and those involved in graffiti vandalism in the past.
The mural was created to deter illegal tagging on a large car park wall.
Before the mural appeared, the mentioned wall had to be cleaned once a month as taggers and vandals would systematically attack it. I represented a high cost for the council and affected the area that was considered unsafe.
The project partners recognised local Koori youth likely felt alienated. They aimed to reduce the risk of turning to graffiti vandalism and encourage a sense of pride and belonging by involving potential offenders in the project.
Lead artist and mentor Alfie Hudson introduced the students to local Koori history and culture through excursions. They also explored spray paint art and storytelling techniques in workshops and learned the differences between street art and illegal graffiti, including the consequences of vandalism.
The mural has not been tagged since its completion. Less graffiti has been reported in the town centre.
The artwork has encouraged tourists to visit the area, increasing passive surveillance and foot traffic. The whole community feels the pride of the mural design.
The project helped develop a sense of ownership in students as the design progressed, supported by mentoring and community feedback.
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