A proud history

Robert and Selina Eggington with artist Kevin Wilson, finishing the mural he painted with Graham ‘Swag’ Taylor.

A TWENTY-METRE mural has sprung up in one day on the wall of YMCA’s Leederville HQ.

The idea came about when some of the HQ folk went to the June 13 Black Lives Matter rally and loved a snake design worn by rapper Josh ‘Flewnt’ Eggington and organisers from Dumbartung Aboriginal Corporation.

They asked mural artist Kevin Wilson and he got in touch with Robert and Selina Eggington from Dumbartung to bring them in on the design, and renowned Noongar artist Graham ‘Swag’ Taylor swapped his oil paint brushes for spraycans to help paint it.

Mr Eggington says there’s a lot of history to the snake, which was used at the Kyana Corroborees on the Perth Esplanade back in the early 90s. The events were a celebration of struggle and survival following the Royal Commission into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody. 

Mr and Mrs Eggington put their handprints in paint as a final touch, and Mr Eggington says he’s proud to see the symbols kept current by the next generation: Along with the snake, the mural features the corroboree’s maxim “may our campfires burn forever” 

“This is more than a mural,” Mr Egginton says. “It’s a historical statement… that our cultural identity and spirituality is as strong as it has been since the beginning of time. 

“To see that symbol now in 2020, 30-odd years later, maintaining its prominence, gives me a sense in my twilight years that as Dumbartung and Kyana both merge into the next generation, that it’s in capable hands of people understanding where those symbols of strength came from.”

Like the corroborees, the painting on June 23 wasn’t untouched by racism: “Even when we were finishing it, there was one word of abuse shouted out from the freeway.” Mr Eggington says that was outweighed when he saw “a car of four or five Noongars, smiling, taking a photo”. 

A skater told him “we will look out for this one”.

By DAVID BELL

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