Kaurna Wirltu Tidna mural celebrates belonging
An original mural is now a permanent fixture of the University of Adelaide’s North Terrace campus, connecting people to Country.
The mural, named Kaurna Wirltu Tidna, depicts many links to the University, such as the Southern Cross and a shield, that are also significant to Kaurna culture.
Cedric Varcoe, a Ramindjerri yuraldi man of the Ngarendjerri nation, and Narunga artist, created the mural art, which has been installed on the western side of the Hub at an impressive 41 metres long and 5 metres wide.
Mr Varcoe said his artwork has found the perfect home: “Where the campus is situated, where people go when they’re finished having lunch, they go and sit down and enjoy it, where for thousands of years the Kaurna people have enjoyed it as well, and they’re still connected to it today.”
“Wherever [people] tread, there’s history to that place, that place has got a spirit.”
The artwork also features the Milky Way, and a flowing river representing the nearby River Torrens/Karrawarri Pari.
“And then there’s parts of it where little people are sitting in camps, and they’re learning and hearing stories. You’ll see tools amongst the people that are sitting in the shelters, and the shelters [represent] the various different fields that people go and study into, [with] tools of learning, of discovery,” Mr Varcoe said.
Mr Varcoe’s art was originally painted on canvas, and then scaled and adapted for the Hub’s glass façade, which took four days to install. The original canvas is now part of the University of Adelaide Library’s Visual Art collection.
Mr Varcoe’s artwork was installed following consultation with Uncle Rodney O’Brien, respected Kaurna Elder and Cultural Advisor at the University of Adelaide.
“It’s an exciting opportunity to tell, not only a Kaurna story, but Cedric’s story as well, because our people believed in sharing of knowledge, and story. It’s about sharing our culture with the wider community, by bringing in people to be part of that community,” Uncle Rod said.
“The mural is about maintaining that connection from the past into the future, and encouraging our young people to do the same.”
"It’s about sharing our culture with the wider community, by bringing in people to be part of that community. The mural is about maintaining that connection from the past into the future, and encouraging our young people to do the same.”Uncle Rodney O’Brien, respected Kaurna Elder and Cultural Advisor at the University of Adelaide.
Kaurna Wirltu Tidna joins other recent Kaurna art installations across the University of Adelaide.
Murlapaka (shields) designed and made by Kaurna and Ngarrindjeri artist Paul Herzich, have been installed at each campus to acknowledge the Kaurna people as traditional owners and custodians of the Adelaide Plains. The shape and markings on the murlapaka identify the shield as belonging to Kaurna people and culture.
Professor Steve Larkin, Pro Vice-Chancellor Indigenous Engagement, echoes the significance of the mural and shields.
“The University of Adelaide strives to increase Indigenous cultural affirmation by raising the status and visibility of Indigenous cultures. We also prioritise collaboration with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities,” he said.
“By commissioning Cedric’s wonderful artwork for the hub, the heart of our university, we are putting these principles in motion,” he said.
“The installation of Aboriginal shields at each campus was a project under the University's Reconciliation Action Plan to acknowledge traditional owners of all the University's campuses. We are proud to recognise and celebrate Kaurna people, culture and Country.”
Mr Varcoe was commissioned to create the mural artwork Kaurna Wirltu Tidna in a partnership between the University of Adelaide and Guildhouse, a not-for-profit organisation that supports South Australian visual artists, craftspeople and designers to build and maintain sustainable careers.
Guildhouse engages and supports artists with creative and career development programs such as residencies, mentorships, one-on-one advice, tailored business skill development, network development and opportunities to create new work.
A video about the Kaurna Wirltu Tidna mural can be found on the University of Adelaide YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=c6Ho6bcP4Yk
Eleanor Danenberg, Media Officer, The University of Adelaide.
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