Heritage, Inclusion and Diversity, light rail, Social Governance, Workforce

First Peoples art trams hit the tracks

first peoples art trams

The first of this year’s First Peoples-designed art trams has hit the tracks as part of RISING festival, turning Melbourne’s tram network into a mobile art gallery.

Public transport minister Ben Carroll joined the RISING team and this year’s artists today to launch the first of six trams, which has been designed by Boonwurrung/Erub artist Amina Briggs.

The remaining five trams will roll out on Melbourne’s tram network over the next 10 days, with designs by a diverse group of Victorian-based First Peoples artists, in a travelling celebration of history, community and connection.

Boonwurrung/Wemba Wemba artist Jarra Karalinar Steel has curated this year’s offering, which showcases the artists’ responses to the theme of ‘Blak Futurism’, envisioning a better future for Australia’s First Peoples.

Amina Briggs’ tram features Bunjil the creator and Waa the protector, integral figures in Boonwurrung culture, accompanied by the Australian raven and wedge-tailed eagle.

Other artists include Peter Waples-Crowe, a Ngarigu artist whose design celebrates the Alpine dingo as a symbol of ecosystem restoration, and mother and son team Lyn and Coree Thorpe, who have collaborated on a work that acknowledges their Aboriginal ancestors and protecting knowledge from their lands.

The First Peoples Melbourne art trams will remain on routes across Melbourne for the next 12 months. Each tram features QR codes to enable passengers to learn more about the artists and their work. RISING partners with Creative Victoria, Department of Transport and Planning and Yarra Trams to present the Art Trams project.

RISING was established by the Andrews Labor Government to create a new drawcard major event for Melbourne in the winter season. Last year close to 315,000 people attended the first full festival.

“Our trams provide a truly unique mobile canvas to celebrate First Peoples connection to country, culture and identity, which will be shared with millions of people who will see the artwork rolling across the city’s iconic tram network,” Carroll said.

Steel said the trams provided a world of colour to the city streets, exploring themes of community, togetherness, intergenerational collaboration, protection and care for country and animals, future folklore, nostalgia, representation, and pay tribute to the beloved city.