To celebrate NAIDOC Week, Highpoint is proud to have commissioned a mural by First Nations Interdisiplinary Artist, Reko Rennie. You can view the mural on Level 1, near Hoyts.
✨ ABOUT REKO RENNIE ✨
Reko Rennie is an interdisciplinary artist who explores personal and political narratives through the lens of his Australian Aboriginal heritage, and broader cultural themes around power, identity, memory and history. Rennie’s distinctive visual language negotiates a hybrid form of visible and invisible, public and private, urban and traditional, provoking discussion of cultural and social visibility in a contemporary environment. A commitment to lush, bold colours, refined technique and slick presentation grounds Rennie’s practice in the present, confidently subverting outdated and romantic ideologies of Aboriginal identity.
🖌️ 'FROM (W)HERE WE CAME' RATIONALE 🖌️
Many of Reko Rennie’s most notable projects have included statements about identity, such as the now infamous T2 building in Darlinghurst, Sydney, on which he backlit the sculpted text Always Was, Always Will Be over his diamond motif mural. Similarly, for this work, Rennie makes reference to the traditional owners of the land, the First Nations’ People, by placing the ‘W’ in brackets so that the statement can be read as From Here We Came. Read in its entirety, From (W)here We Came draws particular attention to migrant history of the West. It is not a divisive statement, rather one that aims to unite the culturally diverse nations that make up Australia by paying respect to history, past and present, and to acknowledge that we are shaped by our surroundings. In this way, the artwork is a poignant reminder of our connection to land and the measures with which we consider contemporary society – a seemingly simple statement that reveals a history of movement across place.
Drawing on his iconic use of contrasting high key colours, From (W)here We Came is an extension of Rennie’s broader practice that combines dynamic, culturally potent symbols, repetitive treatments and personal proclamations. The geometric lines in the work form a half diamond. The diamond symbol is emblematic of Rennie’s connection to the Kamilaroi/Gamilaroi people – it is similar to his family crest. It speaks to the carved marking of trees (dendroglyphs), a sign employed to map out the land in his ancestors’ country in northern New South Wales. Rennie uses the motif here as a marker of place, where diverse individuals, philosophies and histories come together, reflecting the hive of activity in the Highpoint centre.
🧡 WE CAUGHT UP WITH REKO RENNIE TO TALK NAIDOC WEEK, THE MURAL AND HIS CONNECTION TO THE WEST 🧡
Q. What messages and feelings would you like onlookers to experience when they're observing the completed mural?
A.'From (W)here We Came' is a statement about the amazing cultural diversity that represents the West. I'd like people to see the mural and know it is a symbolic statement about cultural diversity and those that represent such a rich tapestry of identity.
Q. What does Melbourne's West and the community surround Highpoint Shopping Centre, mean to you?
A. The West is always a place I associate with home. I was born in Footscray and went to Maribyrnong High School. I have fond memories of growing up in the West - it was also the place where I first started painting as a teenager.
Q. What does NAIDOC Week mean to you?
A. NAIDOC Week is a time for all Australians to actively get involved with learning about the culture, history and identity of Australia's first people. As an Aboriginal Australian, I live NAIDOC Week every day of my life. NAIDOC Week is about connecting with community member, celebrating the rights and achievements of others and remembering that it 'Always Was, Always Will Be' Aboriginal land.