Iconic First Peoples art hits the tracks for RISING

24 May 2022

Melbourne’s iconic trams have once again been transformed into travelling canvases for First Peoples artists, providing inspiring and accessible art for all Victorians.

3 tram carriages brightly painted
Reproduced design from Lin Onus's iconic Tram No. 829. Credit James Morgan

Backed by the Victorian Government and presented by RISING festival – this year’s Melbourne Art Tram initiative will see the festival’s theme “Unapologetically Blak” come to life across six trams, with works from celebrated First Peoples artists past and present.

The first art tram was unveiled today at the first stop for tram routes 48 and 75 in East Melbourne.

Featuring the work of trailblazing Yorta Yorta activist and artist, the late Lin Onus, the tram is a reimagining of Onus’s 1991 tram artwork. The RISING curatorial team has reinstalled the tram artwork under the guidance of the artist’s son, Tiriki Onus.

The tram is adorned with black and white cockatoos and First Peoples cultural markings referencing Country. Lin Onus, who sadly passed away in 1996, made a significant impact on First Peoples art and culture in Australia.

Curated by artist Jarra Karalinar Steel (Boonwurrung/Wemba Wemba), the artists in the 2022 program include Louise Moore (Wamba), Patricia Mckean (Gunditjmara/Kirrae Wurrong), Dr Paola Balla (Wemba-Wemba/Gunditjmara), Tegan Murdock (Burapa) and Darcy McConnell / Enoki (Yorta Yorta/Dja Dja Wurrung).

The art trams will ride Melbourne’s network for 12 months and travellers will be able to learn more about the works and artists on route via QR codes.