SPONSORED: Hunter Valley residents will be greeted by the rich culture and history of the Wonnarua Land region this week, as Huntlee Shopping Centre unveils a new, vibrant community mural by a local Indigenous artist John Robinson.
Commissioned by Coles in partnership the Ungooroo Aboriginal Corporation, the artwork, called Connecting to Country, spans 20 metres and features the handprints of more than 400 locals throughout the piece.
John is a self-taught Bundjalung artist who grew up in the Hunter Valley and has created numerous Indigenous artworks featured in public locations across the Hunter region.
Artist John says he was inspired to share and celebrate the region’s Indigenous heritage, with the inspiration for his latest artwork coming from all living creatures in the Hunter Valley region, harmoniously habituating together.
“The Rainbow Serpent is the creator of the land, and the Wedge tailed Eagle is the totem of the Wonnarua people. All the other animals represent totems of other Aboriginal people which visit and live in the area,” he said.
“The white symbols around the landscape represent the Aboriginal Elders that watch and protect their land, the white circle dots are campfires and meeting stop[s], and the lines connected to them are the tracks where the Aboriginal people have travelled.”
“The coloured dots are the colours of the Rainbow Serpent and the colour of the land today. The handprints below represent the community of today.”
The mural is part of a wider Coles initiative to partner with local Indigenous artists and commission artworks at new Coles supermarkets, with more than 15 murals already in place across the Country.
Coles Chief Sustainability, Property and Export Officer Thinus Keeve, who leads Coles’ Indigenous program, said the project was a significant acknowledgement of the local Aboriginal culture in the Hunter Valley region.
“As Australia’s largest private sector employer of Indigenous Australians, we know it’s very important that our stores and team members are connected to the communities in which they operate,” he said.
“We’ve commissioned several Indigenous artworks at our stores across the country and we know the Huntlee community will enjoy this colourful piece for many years to come.”
Coles is recognised as the largest private sector employer of Indigenous Australians — with more than 4,700 team members employed across Australia and engagements with more than 130 Indigenous suppliers since the inception of the Coles Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander plan.
Huntlee Shopping Centre opened late last year and was the first retail centre in Huntlee, featuring a number of retailers including a full-line Coles supermarket.