Street art in Redfern: new & old

by Jana Bohlmann

Everywhere you go in Sydney, you will find street art, but Redfern not only has new art in the streets on offer but also murals, which have been there for a very long time. Street art in Redfern has a long history and tells many different stories. It tells the stories of the people who own the land on which Redfern is built today. It also tells the stories of people, who just really love street art and want to make the world a better place by presenting their art in public spaces.

Below is a selection of art which you can find in the streets and alleys of Redfern. You will also find a map with the exact location of the specific mural.

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Street Art in Redfern: Welcome to the Block  (B)

all images photographed by Jana Bohlmann.

Say no to Aboriginal community closures


by Jana Bohlmann

Confronting, real and eye-opening describes the work of the award-winning photographer Ingetje Tadros the best. In her latest photography exhibition ‘This is my country – Say no to Aboriginal Community Closures’ at107 Projects in Redfern, she managed to give the viewers an impression of what life looks like  in the Aboriginal community Kennedy Hill in Broome, Western Australia.

Ingetje Tadros is originally from the Netherlands but has been living in Broome for twelve years. During this time she had the chance to find out more about indigenous communities in Australia and how people, who live there are being treated. Five years ago, she started to document life in these indigenous communities in and around Broome in the hope of starting a conversation about social change. 

“I have always been appalled by the way Aboriginal people were treated. It disturbed and disgusted me, so I decided to have a closer look and started mingling with Aboriginal people.” she says. 

Ingetje went to the communities, talked to people and asked if she could spend time with them. After visiting many different communities, she decided to only document one, which was Kennedy Hill. The Kennedy Hill Community was one of the communities facing closure as well as 100 other communities in Western Australia. 

She started taking pictures of the life in Kennedy Hill. Pictures of everyday life to show what it means to live in Kennedy Hill. Her biggest reward from her work was the smiles she got whenever she printed out the images she took and gave them to the people. Many people would call her up and ask her to come over to take some family photos. During her time working in Kennedy Hill, she became very close friends with many people, who live there. They let her into their lives and let her take pictures because they started trusting her and that alone says a lot. 

Ingetje was shocked when she saw what life actually looks like in the Kennedy Hill Community. She couldn’t believe that people in a rich country like Australia have to live in such poverty like they do in Kennedy Hill and numerous other indigenous communities. 

“The community of Kennedy Hill seemed to me like a different planet situated on ‘pristine real estate’ and I was annoyed about the negativity expressed towards Aboriginal people.” she says. 

The decision to document life in the community of Kennedy Hill was based on the closure of the community. To Ingetje, Kennedy Hill acts as a representative of other indigenous communities, which face closure also. 

To her, her photos are evidence of people, who live in poverty and are suffering from a long ongoing systemic social and historical human rights abuse. 

With this work, Ingetje hopes to wake people up and show them that live in Australia is not the same for everyone and that we need to stop believing that the government is doing all it can for the Aboriginal people in this country. 

“As confronting as some of my photographs are here, I hope that they will communicate the plight of people in them and act as a catalyst for debate and an agent for social change no matter how small.“ Ingetje explains. 

Visitors of the exhibition were struck, moved and saddened at the same time by Ingetje’s work. Many of them, who didn’t know what is actually going on in Aboriginal communities, were quite confronted with the photographs, but also grateful for getting a glimpse of life in these communities. 

Let’s hope that these strong photographs will start a conversation about how everyone in Australia can help and change the social injustice of Aboriginal people. 

The stories behind the photographs

Click on the tags in the right hand corner of the images and find out more about the story behind them and what they mean to Ingetje. 

Welcome to loud & radical Redfern

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Duckrabbit Gallery: Jarrod Burgess; image by Jana Bohlmann

Not far away from Redfern’s well known Block, there is a small garage, which transformed into an artist workplace and is called the Duckrabbit Gallery. It is a space run by artists, which also offers room for young emerging artists to exhibit their work and make their way into Sydney’s art world. 

Jarrod Burgess is one of them. Just last Friday, he opened his first solo exhibition ever, called‚ ‘Radical Redfern’. His art is loud, colourful and provoking. It makes people think, smile and happy. Jarrod is a young artist and with only 19 years of age, way ahead of the game. He himself never thought he would already have an exhibition this early on in his career. He is still a student, studying an advanced diploma in illustration at the Enmore Design Centre. 

To call his exhibition‚ ‘Radical Redfern’ was more a coincidence than an intention, he admits. 

“I just really like the word‚ ‘radical’ and I use it a lot as you can tell, and the gallery space is in Redfern and I just combined these two words”.

Himself not being from Redfern, but from Castle Hill, he experiences Redfern as an extremely inspiring place. Especially the mass of street art has impressed him and might inspire him to new art projects as well. But that is not all, what comes to his mind when he thinks of Redfern, he explains. 

“Redfern is just such a diverse place and anyone can fit in here. There wouldn’t be anything like this in my area and I feel like I fit in here. Anyone can fit in here.” 

The art works featured in the Radical Redfern exhibition are crass and have a voice. Each one of them is unique and means something different to everyone. Asking what the message of his art is, Jarrod doesn’t have a clear answer. He just wants to bring happiness to people with his art. He doesn’t think there is a need to have a certain message, just happiness. 

“I came from an angry place in high school and art made me happy.Just sitting down and drawing. People nowadays are too worried and I want to make people happy with my art.”

Even though Jarrod is not originally from Redfern, he finds it a very interesting place, because it is such a mix of different cultures. The topic of the gentrification of the suburb is also compelling to him and he decided to base his new work, an animated book, on the gentrification in Redfern. 

For anyone, who is interested in the young artist and wants to check out his work, come on by to the duckrabbit gallery. The artist will be there every day from 11 – 6pm and will happily chat to you about his works and his inspirations. The exhibition will run until this Thursday, April 14. 

Real Australians are Aboriginal

by Jana Bohlmann

It all started out in 2015 with posters, the artist Peter Drew started putting up all around Australia. In big letters written on these posters is: Real Australians say welcome. Peter Drew travelled around Australia for three months and put up over 1,000 posters. By doing so he wanted to show his support for refugees and asylum seekers and wanted to send a very clear message: Everyone is welcome in Australia.The project was completely crowd funded and most people did respond very positively to it. 

Now that the project has finished, some posters can still be spotted around the major cities in Australia, some have been ripped down, some have disappeared completely and some have been transformed. An unknown artist took Peter Drews project and made it his own. He used the original poster by Drew and simply printed his own message over the letters. The poster now says: Real Australians Are Aboriginal. There is no hint on the transformed posters, who actually put them up. They have been popping up all around the city, but the first one I spotted was in Redfern. 

So who is the artist behind this? Peter Drew said he has seen the posters around the cities but has no idea who created them. Other Sydney street artists were discussing the mystery artist on Instagram and thought it was street artists Minigraf, but he denied this. 

Also, the poster project by Peter Drew received a lot of media attention. His story was reported on by the SMH, the ABC, and numerous other media outlets. Of course, this has much to do, that Peter presented his project publicly in order to do a crowdfunding campaign. He never hid behind his work and used the internet to promote it. 

But why is it, that this new poster project with an equally important message, does not get as much media attention? Is it just because the artist remains anonymous? 

Even if we take a look at Instagram, there are only 14 users who have uploaded images of the ‚Real Australians are Aboriginal‘ posters. In comparison, there are over 400 posts with the hashtag #realaustralianssaywelcome, which is the poster project by Peter Drew. This has mainly to do with the fact, that Peter Drew promoted and still promotes his art very publicly on various social media channels. 

The transformed posters have been spotted all over Sydney and mostly in the suburbs of Redfern, Surry Hills and Darling Hurst and even in Melbourne and Mildura. 

There is absolutely no hint of who the mysterious artist is neither are there any social media posts about it. 

Even though we don’t know who the artist behind this is, the message is loud and very clear. Real Australians are Aboriginal. Whether he or she just wants us to know this or spark a conversation about it and what is going on in Australia, it is a good way to start.