Art Trams return for RISING

A landmark series of artwork by First Peoples artists is now rolling through Melbourne as a key feature of this year’s RISING festival, supported by the Department of Transport, Yarra Trams and Creative Victoria.

For the first time, six trams have been wrapped in artwork designed entirely by Victorian First Peoples artists as part of the 2021 Melbourne Art Trams Program.

Exploring themes like caring for country, cultural heritage and travel, the artwork will be showcased across Melbourne’s iconic tram network for the next 12 months.

Six artists were chosen from over 60 expressions of interests, selected by a panel made up of majority of First Peoples and with the support of Yorta Yorta woman, Kimberley Moulton, as curator of the program.

The selection process was based on creative vision, storytelling and technical feasibility.

Passengers can discover more about each artist and their respective artwork through QR codes inside the trams.

Artist: Aunty Zeta Thomson (Wurundjeri/Yorta Yorta)
Artwork: Mookies around the watering hole
Tram routes: 5, 6, 16, 58 and 72
Artist statement: Mookie means spirit in Yorta Yorta. In our culture, visitors would call out to Ancestor Mookies as they walked through the bush announcing they were coming onto Country. They would meet and gather at sacred waterholes for ceremony. After meeting, the travellers would begin their journey across Country to the next place, ‘galyan woka ngana buraya moya’— a beautiful place far, far away. This work teaches us to respect Country and honour Ancestors.

Mookies around the watering hole by Aunty Zeta Thomson

Images were taken in a controlled environment

Wurundjeri/Yorta Yorta artist Aunty Zeta Thomson

Images were taken in a controlled environment

Artist: Jarra Karalinar Steel (Boonwurrung/Wemba Wemba)
Artwork: iilk (eel)
Tram routes: 48 and 109
Artist statement: From a child my mother told me stories of the iilk (eel) and their important journey cycles and role as a food source for the Boonwurrung people. In this work I have included personal icons of wattle which is my name Jarra Karalinar (wattle tree woman), feathers of Bundjil (wedge tail eagle) and Waa (crow), patterns that reference Kulin design and Walert Murrup (possum spirits) which are healing spirits.

Iilk (eel) by Jarra Karalinar Steel

Images were taken in a controlled environment

Boonwurrung/Wemba Wemba artist Jarra Karalinar Steel

Images were taken in a controlled environment

Artist: Ray Thomas (Brabrawooloong Gunnai)
Artwork: Djeetgun Dreaming
Tram routes: 70 and 75
Artist statement: Djeetgun, the female blue wren is a wrukut (womens) totem of the Gunnai people of Gippsland. The linear designs pay respect to my Ancestors, the markings have been inspired from shields collected in the 1800’s now held in our keeping place. The Gunnai Lit (child) is my granddaughter Bryeesha, affectionately called Djeetgun by the whole family. The gum leaves represent Djeetgun as she flutters through the under growth of the bush.

Djeetgun Dreaming by Ray Thomas

Images were taken in a controlled environment

Brabrawooloong Gunnai artist Ray Thomas

Images were taken in a controlled environment

Artist: Aunty Rochelle Patten (Dhudhuroa/Wemba Wemba/Yorta Yorta)
Artwork: March of the Ants
Tram routes: 58 and 59
Artist statement: This work pays respect to caring for country and community. Our Old People learnt a lot by observing the environment, it tells us things if we are open to listening. The ants represent travelling, working together and participating in our community. Every ant has a role to play to ensure survival and continuity. The feet represent us, learning from ants and applying principles of working together to our society to care for country and each other.

March of the Ants by Aunty Rochelle Patten

Images were taken in a controlled environment

Dhudhuroa/Wemba Wemba/Yorta Yorta artist Aunty Rochelle Patten

Images were taken in a controlled environment

Artist: Thomas Marks (Wotjobaluk/Gunaikurnai)
Artwork: Walking on my Father’s Country
Tram routes: 6 and 19
Artist statement: This work represents walking on my father’s Country and the importance of leaving my footprints and connections. My father was a proud Wotjobaluk man. It’s a tribute to him, connecting our two spirits together as father and son. It shows flowering Indigenous plants that grow along the Wimmera River nurtured by the warmth of the sun and the river. These have provided food and cultural resources for Wotjobaluk people for generations.

Walking on my Father’s Country by Thomas Marks

Images were taken in a controlled environment

Wotjobaluk/Gunaikurnai artist Thomas Marks

Images were taken in a controlled environment

Artist: Deanne Gilson (Wadawurrung)
Artwork: Karringalabil Bundjil Murrup, Manna Gum Tree (The Creation Tree of Knowledge)
Tram routes: 3, 3a, 64 and 67
Artist statement: This work is a Wadawurrung creation story at a place known as Black Hill in Gordon, Victoria. It is a story is of a man known as Karringalabil the creator spirit, who created the first man and woman out of clay (paapul).  He took bark and leaves from the great birthing tree known today as the manna gum tree, a sacred tree that housed the spirits of creation. Karringalabil turned the tree spirits into the birds that represent our ancestral totems.

Karringalabil Bundjil Murrup, Manna Gum Tree (The Creation Tree of Knowledge) by Deanne Gilson

Images were taken in a controlled environment

Wadawurrung artist Deanne Gilson

Images were taken in a controlled environment