Yarra engages Young Aboriginal artist to create powerful artwork

Yarra Council has selected young emerging artist Ky-ya Nicholson-Ward – a Wurundjeri, Dja Dja Wurrung and Nguarai Illam-Wurrung, German and Irish woman – to design the Aboriginal Lives Matter campaign.

This campaign, led by the Yarra Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community, is part of Yarra’s commitment to fighting racism, preventing Aboriginal deaths in custody, and advocating for broader understandings of Wurundjeri Woi Wurrung, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community experiences, issues and stories.

This design responds to the global Black Lives movement by referencing the instantly recognisable raised fist. At the same time this work is identifiably local with a river, representing the Yarra River and Bunjil the creator. It also includes the gum leaf, which is an important symbolic offering in a traditional Aboriginal Welcome to Country ceremony, inviting visitors to be a part of the land. In accepting the gum leaf, guests on Country are bound to respect the land and its peoples.

Aboriginal Lives Matter

Ky-ya’s design ultimately speaks to the resilience of the world’s oldest living culture, from Bunjil the creator to the community living in Yarra now. It reflects the Aboriginal’s community call for change and reminds us of the obligation to respect the land and its peoples.

This design is being displayed on posters in various locations around Yarra. It will also be used on t-shirts for Yarra’s Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community, and in an email signature.

Everyone is welcome to support this campaign and proudly showcase the message that Aboriginal Lives Matter:

About the artist

Ky-ya Nicholson-Ward is a Wurundjeri, Dja Dja Wurrung and Nguarai Illam-Wurrung, German and Irish woman. She follows her mother, artist Mandy Nicholson’s footsteps and has already got an impressive list of achievements under her belt at the young age of 17, having designed the 2020 Indigenous Round Melbourne Storm jersey, Suncorp Super Netball’s Indigenous Round dress for Melbourne Vixens and working with her mother Mandy Nicholson she designed a unique artwork for National Reconciliation Week 2020 for Melbourne Cricket Club on the turf at MCG.

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