In one of the largest community arts projects in Australia’s history, the Collingwood Housing Estate has been transformed through art. Minister for Planning, Richard Wynne MP and Juddy Roller have teamed up with renowned artist Matt Adnate to create the tallest mural in the Southern Hemisphere.
Painted by the artist Adnate, the work takes up the entire city facing wall of Collingwood Housing Estate’s 20-storey, 220 apartment tower block. The work profiles four of the estate’s residents and seeks to celebrate the multicultural community that calls the estate home. The residents chosen to represent the neighbourhood include: 6-year-old Arden Watson-Cropley and 10-year-old Ni Na Nguyen, both of whom are being raised in the flats by their single-parent mothers; grandmother Badria Abdo from Oromia, Ethiopia who lives with disability restrictions and came to Australia as a refugee in 2006; and Yulius Antares Taime, a newer resident who relocated to Australia from West Papua, Indonesia just over a year ago.
Standing tall on Collingwood’s Wellington Street, the estate was built in the 1960s as part of a controversial urban renewal program after the Second World War. Today, it remains one of Melbourne’s largest public housing estates, with over 2500 residents.
Despite some residents still experiencing social disadvantage, Collingwood Housing Estate has become a cherished home for many. The project, which has been three years in the making, has been backed by Martin Foley MP’s portfolios of Creative Industries and Housing.
Member of Parliament for the local Richmond electorate for 19 years, Planning Minister Richard Wynne said: “It’s a celebration of the residents who are living in the Wellington St towers and an acknowledgement of the importance of public housing as a safe, affordable and secure place to live.”
Internationally renowned Melbourne-based artist Matt Adnate is reunited with Juddy Roller for what is to be his largest commission yet. Arguably the most influential street artist in Australia, Adnate is best known for his large-scale portraits that highlight minority community members and is best known for his iconic 23-metre portrait of an Aboriginal boy in Hosier Lane. In a bid to make his art accessible to all, Adnate’s works typically appear in public domains and can be seen in cities worldwide including Sydney, Singapore, Barcelona, Berlin, Mumbai, New York and Paris.
Having grown up in Fitzroy himself, Adnate has relished the opportunity to work with the local community – in particular, Collingwood Neighbourhood House, to ensure that the mural is an authentic representation of the Collingwood Housing Estate precinct and its residents. To prepare for the project, Adnate facilitated a series of artist pop-up events at the estate. These events served a dual purpose of giving residents the opportunity to learn more about what was in store with the mural while providing Adnate with a chance to meet potential subjects for his work.
Adnate and Juddy Roller say that the project sees them united by a desire to break down social barriers and leave a positive mark on the community. Not only is the mural visible to passers-by in Collingwood but also to occupants in high-rise buildings in the CBD – visually connecting the city’s commercial hub with this very special community in what is considered the cultural heart of Melbourne.
Photographed by Nicole Reed.