Mural vandalised, but message loud and clear

The mural lives on two years after it was defaced by a tagger. 
Picture: Angelica Snowden

By ANGELICA SNOWDEN

Two years after notorious graffiti tagger Nost defaced the Fitzroy mural From Bombinieri to Barbed Wire, the community continues to push for its preservation.

The Women’s Mural Documentation Project hosted a talk on Sunday at the site of the mural to commemorate two years since its defacement.

Group co-leader Danielle Hakin said their digital project, In Your Space, invited locals to post everyday shots of women to challenge the airbrushed and photo-shopped portrayals of women, so that they can keep the message of the mural alive.

“In Your Space is about people taking photos … of something they perceive to be a positive image and an interesting representation of women that makes them feel included and welcome,” Ms Hakin said.

“It’s one of the few places where women are represented in a non-objectifying way. It’s not sexualised and they are just doing everyday things.”

The Women’s mural represented in the 2016 Melbourne Art Trams project. Picture:  James HH Morgan, The Women’s Mural Documentation Project

In 1986, artists Megan Evans and Eve Glenn spoke with women in Northcote and Preston as an inspiration for their 50m by 12m mural in Smith St.

They wanted to celebrate the cultural diversity of the area, and included pictures of indigenous, Sudanese, Italian and local Australian women, depicted in a non-stereotypical ways.

After the mural was tagged in 2016, the community called for action to preserve this piece of Australian feminist history and celebrate the mural.

In response, the Women’s Mural Documentation Project was started. Ms Hakin said the group was collecting anything to do with the mural in an attempt to keep the message of the piece alive.

“That might be flyers, or someone might have written an article, or newspaper clippings, T-shirts or photos of the bands from the launch party,” she said.

“It might just be stories of how people felt when they walked past the mural for the first time.”

Penelope Lee at the mural,  talking about the Her Place Women’s Museum Australia, where she is general manager. Picture: The Women’s Mural Documentation Project

Sally Northfield, the other co-leader of the Women’s Mural Documentation Project, said it was about being inclusive and that the documentation and digital projects tied in with other campaigns that support women’s empowerment.

“Funds [for the project] are directed towards supporting women who experience violence,” Ms Northfield said.

“People don’t always join the dots about how [the mural] is relevant, but it is and particularly this one because it’s on such a large scale – there are not that many large-scale murals in Melbourne that represent women in a positive way,” she said.

In partnership with the Her Place Women’s Museum Australia,as part of the Australian Heritage Festival, theDocumentation Project is askingthe community to donate any memorabilia.

If you have or know of anyone who has items to donate or stories to share, please email Danielle and Sally at thewomensmuralproject@gmail.com.