BCA students leave their mark on celebrated artist’s latest work

Mural launch FlindersWP
Flinders students Anna Dowling (centre) and Chris Webb (second from right) with Richard Bell (third from left) at the launch of their mural. Photo: Marie Falcinella

Flinders University students have celebrated their contribution to a 19-metre mural promoting Aboriginal and African-American art, culture and history at its launch in Adelaide.

Chris Webb and Anna Dowling, who assisted the internationally renowned artist Richard Bell with his work, were on hand as the final piece was unveiled on the western wall of TAFE SA’s Adelaide City campus last week.

Mr Bell worked with students from Flinders, TAFE SA’s Adelaide College of the Arts and other institutions to paint the multi-panel mural, in collaboration with the Contemporary Art Centre of South Australia (CACSA), Adelaide City Council, the Helpmann Academy and UniSA.

Working on a roster system, Mr Webb and Ms Dowling, who are enrolled in a Flinders University and TAFE SA Bachelor of Creative Arts (Visual Arts) dual-award program, spent an intensive week drafting and painting the large panels to meet the installation deadline.

Ms Dowling said she had long admired Mr Bell and gained huge experience from working with him.

“Richard Bell has provided a unique voice for Aboriginal artists and I’m really grateful for the opportunity to learn from him,” she said.

TAFE SA Chief Executive Robin Murt said the mural would promote international indigenous culture to large volumes of vehicle and pedestrian traffic, as well as TAFE SA’s students, staff and visitors.

“TAFE SA is proud to have been able to participate in a project that promotes this state’s emerging artists,” Mr Murt said. “Our students are fortunate to be able to spend time with a world-leading artist, not only to help their developing artistic abilities but also to foster their understanding of the logistical and legal responsibilities related to working and displaying their art in public arenas.”

Mr Bell is a member of the Kamilaroi, Kooma, Jiman and Gurang Gurang communities, and is based in Brisbane. He has featured in many national and international exhibitions of Australian Indigenous art and in 2003 won the National Telstra Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Art Award.

As part of the Adelaide Festival and Fringe season, CACSA is presenting ‘Embassy’, a curated exhibition by Mr Bell and his long-time collaborator, American artist Emory Douglas, ‘Minister of Culture’ for the Black Panthers from 1967 until the early 1980s whose work has been exhibited around the world.

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