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Wajarri Yamatji artist Noeleen Hamlett and Governor Stirling SHS students Calais Hamlett, Brandon Taylor, Cheroke Ugle and Jumal Davis putting their best brush forward.

Art sends NAIDOC unity message to the world

Claire Ottaviano

NAIDOC week came alive at Governor Stirling Senior High School this week with the painting of a large bench mural at the school’s entrance.

Wajarri Yamatji artist Noeleen Hamlett was inspired by the bench length to design and paint a sunset theme with native elements.

“The inclusion of footprints are painted going in towards the school and so are the kangaroo tracks,” she said.

“Because kangaroos can only move forward it’s a symbol to show that we will always keep moving forward.”

Growing up watching her mother and brother carve emu eggs, Hamlett has a life-long passion for art.

Going on to study contemporary art at TAFE, she now has public art including murals and wood carvings around Perth.

“Creating public art is great, because it’s more visible for people to enjoy,” she said.

“I like my work to have an impact on those who see it.”

School Aboriginal Islander Education Officer Troy Coleman said despite the postponed celebrations due to COVID-19, the significance of the event was not lost.

“Keeping NAIDOC alive was hugely important for indigenous people, especially at school for our kids.” he said.

“Doing it later in the year meant that we could keep alive the changes we are trying to push for in the community.”

As well as the mural, students were treated to a special performance from Noongar musicians Gina Williams and Guy Ghouse as well as a hip hop performer Jamal Ryder as part of the week-long celebrations.

“The great thing about the mural is it brings us all together,” Mr Coleman said.

“We’ve had everyone from the principal to the gardeners and cleaners, teachers, parents all have had a paint,” he said.

“Ultimately I believe if you put something like this on a school and an indigenous student or person comes here and sees a picture like this they will feel welcomed and feel it’s their place too.”

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