Converse Clean the Air in Melbourne Via Sustainable ‘City Forest’ Public Art
Converse have collaborated with All Stars member and Gumbaynggirr artist/activist Aretha Brown to paint a mural in Collingwood, Melbourne, that not only cleans the air, but also sparks conversation around Indigenous urban identity, and the importance of elders within the community.
Located at the Converse Fitzroy store on the corner of Kerr and Smith Streets, Collingwood’s ‘City Forest’ mural absorbs enough air pollutants to plant the equivalent of 128 trees in inner city Melbourne. Across the globe, Converse have activated these sustainable murals in cities from Singapore to São Paulo, which have planted the equivalent of 7121 trees (and counting).
The design for this Converse ‘City Forest’ mural draws on multiple themes. It is a celebration of Aboriginal matriarchs and signifies the integral role of elders as a pillar for community, while also acknowledging the role of young mob and how Indigenous culture exists within modern life.
As part of Aretha’s creative process, she consulted with Aboriginal elder and well-known actor, Uncle Jack Charles, to learn more about the Indigenous history of the area, and also sought support for the project from Annette Xiberras, Wurundjeri elder.
Known for her activism as well as her art, Aretha was named the Prime Minister of the National Indigenous Youth Parliament in 2017, and uses her creativity as a vehicle to bring awareness to issues facing Australia’s Indigenous and First Nations Peoples. She also likes to empower other young artists by forming her own ‘femme crew’ to help paint her larger scale artworks.
‘The main objective of my art and my activism is to make sure that young Indigenous people have a voice,’ says Aretha.
Education is a vital aspect of Aretha’s creative work, and for this project she has partnered with the National Indigenous Youth Education Coalition (NIYEC) to promote the message of ‘Teach Blak History’ in Australian schools. As part of the campaign, a limited-edition t-shirt also designed by Aretha is available to purchase here, with 100 per cent of proceeds being donated to NIYEC to continue their invaluable work for Indigenous youth.
Converse ANZ is actively looking to keep the momentum going, with a third mural planned to go up in Auckland later this year. To learn more about Converse City Forests and opportunities, visit here.