Together, We Can – International Women’s Day Mural Street Art Project

14 May 2019

In celebration of International Women’s Day this year, YWCA Canberra had the opportunity to work with Transport Canberra and City Services (TCCS), Lanyon High students, local talented artists Bohie Palecek, Faith Kerehona and young trailblazing community leaders, Dhani Gilbert and Caitlin Figueiredo, to create two separate murals located on the Centre Point building in Garema Place Civic, near the Merry-Go-Round.

The International Women’s Day Mural Street Art Project, ‘Together, We Can’, was an opportunity for young high school students, who identify as female, to create connections, build rapport, brainstorm ideas, use different resources and learn new art skills, such as mural creation, stencilling, typography and painting. Throughout discussion points, we created a safe space to explore feminism, acknowledge the women that have come before us, applaud the inspirational women of today and talk about the challenges we face, while fostering the need to continue to build momentum towards a future based in equality for all women and girls.

Due to the high calibre of applications to be involved in the project, two outstanding artists were chosen to lead individual workshops. The first mural concept created by accomplished typographer and sign writer, Bohie, asked participants to look positively to the future by leading the Lanyon High students to finish the sentence ‘Together, we can…’. Some examples of what the young people came up with were ‘say yes’, ‘say no’, ‘breakdown stereotypes’, ‘have equal opportunities’, ‘validate each other’, ‘respect ourselves’, ‘have boundaries’ and ‘be respected’. The artwork showcased several raised fists signifying strength and resilience. The students then answered the question with their own unique artistic expression which they stencilled onto the mural.

The second mural concept was portraiture created by boundary-breaking 19-year-old Canberra Artist, Faith, and was designed to highlight powerful, inspirational and diverse young leaders who are making positive changes within their local and international communities. The Lanyon High students were mentored to outline and paint images, and quotes, provided by proud Wiradjuri woman and Young Canberra Citizen of the Year 2018, Dhani Gilbert and Global Gender Equality Advocate and Jasiri Australia Founder and CEO, Caitlin Figueiredo. The leaders presented their story to the group and provided on-going support throughout the experience.

YWCA Canberra Middle Years Youth Engagement Officer, Belinda Quinn, said it was an honour to play a small role in bringing such an important project to life. “It gave young Canberra students, and future leaders, a voice and an opportunity to engage in artistic expression around a topic that directly impacts them.”

The final pieces were unveiled on International Women’s Day, Friday 8 March, to a crowd filled with family, friends and members of the Canberra community. Representatives from Lanyon High, Transport Canberra and City Services, the YWCA Canberra Youth Engagement team, the artists and inspirational leaders all shared about their experiences with being involved in the project.

For this fantastic project to go ahead, there were a wide variety of people and key stakeholders who worked together to make it possible. We would like to thank and acknowledge them for all of their efforts:

  • Lanyon High School students for fully engaging in this project, sharing their skills, talents and enthusiasm
  • mentors and artists Bohie Palecek and Faith Kerehona for creating the inspired artworks and expertly guiding the experience for the young people
  • young leaders Dhani Gilbert and Caitlin Figueiredo sharing their stories and showing us what empowered women can achieve
  • Transport Canberra and City Services who brought this project to life and worked behind the scenes to make this all possible
  • the Canberra Centre for providing us with the space to use for these amazing murals to be showcased to the public.

And finally, a special mention to City Renewal Canberra, who was involved in the generous creation of the ‘Together, we can’ clip that has been released for use on social media.

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