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The meaning behind new Indigenous murals splashed across Perth CBD buildings

Emma Ruben -

Two new murals by local Indigenous artists have been painted across various spaces within 140 Perth building.

The 140 Perth building is now home to two new murals by Nimunburr and Yawaru artist Kambarni (Kamsani Bin Salleh) and Whadjuk, Ballardong and Yamatji artist Marcia McGuire.

Kambarni and McGuire's murals are the first two murals in a series of public artworks to be installed at 140 Perth.

During the mural painting process, both artists were guided by cultural advisors Barry McGuire and Carol Innes.

Part of 140 Perth's newly created immersive space MAARAKOOL, the Noongar translation of 'with the hands', these murals are only the beginning of an immersive creative program.

The program will feature artist talks and tours, co-creation mural and printmaking workshops.

Both murals have been inspired by different women in the artists' life.

McGuire's mural, Ngangk kidji Yok Koora Ngaany (Mothers and Women Before Me), is an ode to the women past in her ancestral heritage.

Marcia McGuire stands in front of her mural. Photo credit: Balázs Kajcsa.

Located on Globe Lane, McGuire's mural paints a picture of the significance of the female figure in Noongar culture.

"In Noongar, we call a mother and sun the same, Ngangk, but she is a Yok woman," McGuire said.

"The knowledge and care she passes on to her children, is what shapes our next generation.

"I want people to understand the importance of our women today and tomorrow, their strength, knowledge and intelligence through my artwork."

On a personal level, McGuire's mural features her own grandmother May Stack McGuire. The process of painting her grandmother's portrait involved using an app to scale the portrait between two mobile devices and then onto the wall.

The symbolism of her grandmother represents the importance of the matriarch in her own family McGuire said.

"My nanna's face is represented in her youth, the moment before she became a mother," she said.

"(She) represents all the women before us...we feel them when the wind blows through our hair, when the water flows on us.

"Art is an emotional journey for me...to find that knowledge and that history and be connected to my ancestors."

For Kambarni, his work located on Railway Lane was inspired by his own grandmother Sylvia May Thorne's support during his adolescence.

"My mural represents remembrance of both the physical environment and of the pre-colonial customs of trade," Kambarni said.

"The artwork speaks to the dual nature of life, fire and water, the masculine and feminine, the natural world and the constructed, the past and the future."

Kambarni said having his mural across a public building in central Perth is an opportunity for education.

"I use my artwork as a tool for educating. True education rarely comes from a simple transfer of information," he said.

"I hide imagery within tightly packed line works to subvert expectations. There is order and meaning to the artwork that may not be understood to the passive observer.

"My aim is for people interacting with the artwork to notice that there is imagery hidden withing and the proximity of certain icons together add an additional layer to the story."

The MAARAKOOL Art Programme was launched July 14 with various events with both artists running until August 5, with hopes of an extension.

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