Train artwork

Four shortlisted First Peoples artists and collectives completed designs to have their artwork splashed across all seven carriages of one of our first High Capacity Metro Trains following an expression of interest process.

Wurundjeri woman Mandy Nicholson was awarded an $18,000 Victorian Government creative commission as the selected artist for the project.

Ms Nicholson is a Traditional Custodian of Narrm (Melbourne). She also has Dja Dja Wurrung and Ngurai Illum Wurrung heritage, all forming part of the Eastern/Central Kulin Nation of Victoria.

Her winning design, ‘Wurundjeri Biik (Wurundjeri Country)’, explores the Wurundjeri culture’s connection to Country and our shared journey. Here's what our shortlisted artists have to say about their designs.

Mandy Nicholson (selected artist)

A blue and white train with artwork of parallel wavy lines stretching from bottom-left to top-right dotted with circular graphics and light to dark blue gradient

Wurundjeri culture has many different elements that make up the whole. These are physical or tangible elements of culture, such as language (Woiwurrung), dance, animals, and the environment, and within those are the intangible or spiritual elements.

These include the six layers of Country: ‘Biik-ut (Below Country): Where we collect ochre for dance and ceremony. Biik-dui (On Country): Where we do those ceremonies and dances. Baanj Biik (Water Country): Water forms part of our Welcoming ceremonies as well as it being in every layer of Country as a life source. Murnmut Biik (Wind Country): Wind Country: The wind carries our language and smoke from our Welcome fire up to Bunjil and absorbs into everything around us. Wurru Wurru Biik (Sky Country): Where we see Bunjil in his physical form. Tharangalk Biik (Star Country): Where Bunjil lives in his spiritual form as the star Altair.’

These layers are all intrinsically linked and cannot survive without the other. These ancient connections are relevant to all that now call Narrm (Melbourne) home. In my design, the train carriages depict different layers of Country and the theme of ‘journey’.

Highlighting these layers of Wurundjeri Country shines a light on a culture that is almost hidden in the urban context. It will help people understand our spiritual connection has always been and will continue as we all travel our shared path.

Fiona Clarke

A blue and white train with artwork of two circular focal points in the bottom third with lines emanating over a background of pink, blue and grey texture

Fiona’s work features symbols of Melbourne landmarks and important meeting places, including the MCG, the Yarra/Birrarung River, the City Loop and train stations, and Federation Square.

“The overall aim is to pull all the important things about Melbourne into the centre and to connect all the things that make Melbourne a great community while acknowledging and sharing our First Peoples' culture and history.”

Kaptify (Adam Magennis)

A blue and white train with artwork of and eagle head in bottom left blending into a texture of pastel colours and indigenous elements

Our creative work aims to symbolise and celebrate the diversity of the Kulin Nation cultures within the metropolitan Melbourne train network.

The illustrative designs showcase the diverse cultural landscapes of the Kulin Nations - Woiwurrung, Dja Djawurrung, Taungwurrung, Wadawurrung, and Boonwurrung language group areas - and recognised cultural elements of these Kulin Nation cultures.

We have undertaken preliminary consultation with individual Kulin Nation community members to identify cultural symbols, natural shapes, and patterns, which will feature on the train livery design.

We have also conducted preliminary research about Kulin Nations in appropriately qualified internet search engines. Further consultation is required with Registered Aboriginal Parties if awarded the project.

Bunjil and Waa (Creator) will be on the front and rear ends of the train carriages with individual carriage designs representing each Kulin Nation member.

The illustration includes the topography from spiritual mountain ranges of the Kulin. Plants, animals, insects, and geology will also be included on each carriage design.

Pitcha Makin Fellas

A blue and white train with artwork of various coloured circular artistic elements over a blue background

Pitcha Makin Fellas have been interested in ‘time’ for some time. We are all time-poor it seems, running to work and then somewhere else in a hurry. Blackfella Time tells a different story.

For the livery design, a selection of clocks will be integrated into the background image ‘More Than One Golden Nation’.

One clock might have the six seasons of the Gunditjmara all over its face and just a sweep second hand. Another clock might go from 1 to 60,000 to remind us how long Aboriginal people have been here.

More than One Golden Nation’ is a sparkling picture representing some of the 300 Nations that made this country and how they connected. It tells us that Aboriginal people were here before gold was discovered, were present on the goldfields, and are still here, now. It reminds us of the wisdom, resilience, and creative strength of Aboriginal people and their generosity of spirit.