Fringe mural blends art and culture

Fringe mural blends art and culture

A new mural on Essington Lewis Avenue demonstrates the meeting of Aboriginal and Columbian cultures, with two talented artists blending their works together.

SANAA artists Scott Rathman, an Arrernte man, and Katherine Gailer, originally from Columbia, have been working on the mural in recent days as part of the 2021 uneARTh Whyalla Festival.

The mural covers three walls on the Essington Lewis footpath, with the two outside being of Columbian and Aboriginal artwork, then meeting in the middle where they are blended.

Ms Gailer said it was an opportunity to explore their cultures and learn from one another through their art.

"It's a collaboration where we got to explore some iconography, Scott brings in all the traditional Aboriginal iconography while I bring iconography from Latin America focusing on mythical beings and hybrids," she said.

"I've been painting a water spirit which is a hybrid between human, fish and frog, and that's how the spirits of the water are usually represented."

On Mr Rathman's side of the mural, he's painting an image of a fish which is a significant animal in the Aboriginal culture, as well as Aboriginal Elders who will be watching from beyond.

"Those who walk past will be in the shadow of those who walked before us," he said.

"Traditionally we did rock painting and carving into stones, so it's a continuation of that in a contemporary way...the Aboriginal people can be proud of something like this that represents them."

Ms Gailer said it was an honour and a pleasure to work with Mr Rathman as a fellow artist and learn more about the Aboriginal culture.

"It's always been something that I appreciate and feel passionate about," she said.

Positive feedback has already been flowing in for the artists, including a group of schoolchildren who had correctly identified Ms Gailer's painting as that similar to a mermaid.

"They were very smart - they caught on to what I was doing," she said.

FLOATING TO THE SURFACE: Columbian artist Katherine Gailer with her water hybrid mural.

FLOATING TO THE SURFACE: Columbian artist Katherine Gailer with her water hybrid mural.