Metro Tunnel artwork brings country to canvas at City Square


A new mural along the Metro Tunnel site fence at City Square is bringing the natural world to the bustling city.

The vibrant mural, entitled Karrap Karrap Beenyak Mundi-gurrk/Baskets of Knowledge, features a series of dilly bags – traditional Aboriginal woven bags – containing Indigenous plants.

Artist and proud Waddawurrung woman Dr Deanne Gilson said her work connected people with Dja (Country) and drew upon the traditional knowledge of her ancestors. “It brings you back to appreciating Country,” Dr Gilson said.

The work depicts Indigenous plants from healing plants to bush tucker.

“They’re all Indigenous plants, they’re not plants people have had to go and buy in a nursery. They’re free, just out there in the environment if you look hard enough.”

The dilly bags and baskets are drawn from the south-eastern collection of artefacts held by the Melbourne Museum, and gifts from family and friends in an ode to her heritage.

“Our ancestors were basket weavers. I don’t know if our bodies have that DNA knowledge embedded within them, but for some reason we all keep coming back to the same thing,” she said.

Dr Gilson’s mural is based on her original paintings, which use ochre, charcoal, 22-carat gold leaf and acrylic on canvas.

The ochre was found by Dr Gilson herself, so she has truly brought Country to canvas.

“I’ve been collecting all these ochres and finding out where to get ochre from. Sometimes you have to go in the bush a little bit to get some of the colours,” Dr Gilson said.

“The sap is like super glue when you melt it down and you put that with the ochre, so it seals it and stays on the canvas.”

The charcoal used by Dr Gilson also represents a connection between her family and Country.

“I don’t have a fire, but my mum and sister have wood fires so every time they light a fire I ask: ‘Can you send me a bag of charcoal first?’.”

The mural is one of the latest installations as part of the Metro Tunnel Project’s Creative Program.•

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