First Nations mural transforms heart of Oakleigh

Monash Mural Photos-115-web.jpg

Visitors to the popular Oakleigh Activity Centre will notice an eye-catching new feature on the external façade of Atkinson Street car park this week. The City of Monash is unveiling a new work of public art by Gunditjmara, Yorta Yorta and Wemba Wemba artist Tom Day, aimed at celebrating First Nations culture and fostering a sense of community.

Titled ‘Nanyubak’, a Yorta Yorta word meaning ‘to dream the future’, the mural depicts the lines of connection that bind people to the land and to each other. Bunjil the Eagle and Waa the Crow feature prominently, while the teal thread of the local Scotchmans Creek runs throughout. Gum leaves feature in the work, welcoming people to the lands of the Traditional Owners, the Wurundjeri Woi Wurrung People.

The project marks a significant milestone for Monash Council as the first large-scale mural solely designed and installed by a First Nations artist in the municipality. Commissioning the artwork aligns with Council’s Innovate Reconciliation Action Plan, which was endorsed in December 2022.

Mayor of Monash Cr Nicky Luo said: “This mural embodies the shared approach Council is committed to taking, to work alongside Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples to advance reconciliation across Monash.

“Creating it has also been a collaborative effort from the community, with more than 300 respondents engaging in the consultation process to choose the design, including Grade 5 visual arts students at Oakleigh Primary School and attendees at last year’s Oakleigh Glendi Festival.”

Artist Tom Day said: “The feature that ties the mural together is the linework. Each line represents a line of people who have called this place home from the beginning of time to the very present day.

“The title ‘Nanyubak’ (to dream the future) came from my experience of talking to the students at Oakleigh Primary School as part of the community consultation process. Ultimately the future is theirs, and hopefully the artwork allows young people to dream of a future that is brighter than we could ever imagine.”

Following extensive engagement with the Wurundjeri Woi Wurrung Traditional Owners, Council put out a public Expression of Interest and selected Day, who is represented by Mamam.

Two draft designs were presented for the community’s feedback, and more than 300 Monash residents participated, voting for their favourite.

Day refined the design using the feedback and installed the mural in January 2024. Adding to the community spirit of the project, Day also offered local passers-by in Oakleigh the chance to contribute by painting a swipe of colour in the mural’s design.

The Nanyubak mural was delivered by City of Monash in partnership with the Victorian Government.

An official launch will be held at 61 Atherton Road, Oakleigh at 9am, Tuesday 13 February 2024. ­­

/Public Release. View in full here.