Consisting of a series of brightly coloured newspaper vending boxes with newspapers inside inscribed with stories of colonial and pre-colonial aboriginal life, a child's swing, which is representative of a gallows, and an Indigenous garden, this contemporary work was commissioned at a cost of $155,000. The artist, Brook Andrew, claims the piece “will educate locals and visitors about forgotten colonial wars between Europeans and Aborigines.”
The inspiration for this particular piece has interesting and historical origins. Commemorating the story of Tunnerminnerwait and Maulboyheenner, two Aboriginal men who were publicly hanged within close proximity of the artwork’s new site, the piece is both a representation of a part of Melbourne’s Aboriginal history and a commentary on the social landscape of the late 19th century.
Executed in Melbourne in 1842 after being convicted of murder, Tunnerminnerwait and Maulboyheenner were the first people to be publicly hanged in Melbourne. Their plight made headlines throughout the country.
Significant figures in Melbourne’s history, Tunnerminnerwait and Maulboyheenner are portrayed as freedom fighters due to an extensive campaign of actions that resisted white settlement. Born in Tasmania, these men were brought to Melbourne in 1839. The story of their journey from Tasmania and life in Melbourne reflects a wide range of contentious issues of the day, including conflict over land and the treatment of Aboriginal people, as well as issues of crime and punishment in Australia during this era.
In a public art exhibition entitled Executed in Franklin Street, to be held in the City Gallery from 26 November 2016 to 1 February 2016, stories of Tunnerminnerwait and Maulboyheenner joins other indigenous stories, represented through a series of artworks created by Tasmanian and Victorian Aboriginal artists, that shine a thought provoking light on our collective perceptions of indigenous history.
Find out more about this important historic chapter and the artwork by visiting Executed in Franklin Street, an exhibition at City Gallery.