Wiradjuri elder Jenny Munro — who built her considerable reputation leading protestors at the Redfern Aboriginal Tent Embassy — is about to become even larger than life.
Munro is one of four Sydney people who will be captured by top Australian street artists in giant murals on unused city walls.
Street artist Matt Adnate will begin painting a portrait of Munro in Haymarket on June 20 and is aiming to have the work finished by June 24.
Other people who will feature in murals are professional boxer and priest, Father Dave Smith, who uses boxing to help troubled youth; retired Parramatta Eels rugby league player and mental health champion Nathan Hindmarsh; and Katherine Hudson who co-founded Wear It Purple, an anti-homophobic school bullying campaign.
The portraits by Adnate, Stormie Mills, E.L.K and Ka-eine are part of an ANZ street art project recognising Sydney people with stories to tell.
Munro’s story is one of fighting for Aboriginal rights and sovereignty in a system she says continues to oppress indigenous Australians.
“The system has removed hope for our children,” she says. “I grew up with hope, and I still maintain hope for our young people, but the system doesn’t give it to them, that’s why we have an epidemic of suicide in our young people.
“Everyone needs hope to cling on to.”
Munro has fought for indigenous housing rights for more than four decades.
In 2014 she began the Redfern Tent Embassy protesting at the Aboriginal Housing Company’s plans for a $70 million commercial precinct which included shops, a gym and housing for non-Aboriginal students from the University of Sydney, but did not prioritise affordable housing for indigenous people.
The protesters were facing eviction in August last year when federal Indigenous Affairs minister Nigel Scullion stepped in to guarantee federal funding for affordable housing at the site.
Munro and her followers claimed the $5 million commitment as a victory.
Munro holds an Arts Law Degree from Sydney University and grew up at the Erambie Mission on the outskirts of Cowra.
“[It was] one of the biggest populations of Aboriginal people in the country,” she says. “It was a haven for our people . . . a refuge from a wider racist society, our little piece of the world.”
Adnate, who will paint her portrait, recently painted Australian model Samantha Harris for his Archibald entry.