The Greek Youth Generator (GYG) team are gearing up to brighten another Victorian suburb with a Greek-inspired mural.
Dean Kotsianis and George Mellos have their sights set on Footscray (or Foot-ee-scray as our grandparents call it), located in Melbourne’s inner-west.
Their mural project is entitled Footscray’s Hidden Hellenism and will showcase Greek-Australian cultural gems and contribution to the area.
“The inspiration coming from Footscray is that it’s obviously a suburb with massive multicultural history and the massive Greek chapter in that. A lot of people seem to know about it, but there’s not a lot of people that are trying to reconnect with it or do something with it,” Kotsianis told Neos Kosmos.
“We see glimpses of Hellenism in Footscray but never the full picture.”
GYG will be teaming up with prolific muralist and Footscray Art Prize winner, Khosnaran Khurelbaatar better known as ‘Heesco’. He is also known as one of Australia’s most well recognised silo artists to date and brings his understanding of Australian multiculturalism to the table.
“He has Mongolian heritage and that’s something that he champions a lot here and generally does a lot of work in the multicultural space and has helped shape the way the Footscray street art scene looks today,” Kotsianis explained.
In 2020 Her Excellency, the Honourable Linda Dessau AC, the Governor of Victoria commissioned the artist to create a mural expressing gratitude towards the frontline workers during the catastrophic bushfires and the COVID-19 pandemic, which is on display in Yarram’s Memorial Gardens.
“Heesco is going to help us create a team of people to tackle the project, as big as we need really and he thinks he knows some Greek artists in the area that haven’t really done Greek inspired art before. It’s a chance to broadcast our message to the wider community use different people interpretation of it and grow that mutual understanding.”
The project organisers also met up with former Mayor of Footscray and Philhellene Fred Maddern and renowned former musician and restauranteur Thomas Papadopoulos. They consulted the local heavyweights with respect to the Greek history to get their take on the project and steer GYG to people who might be able to help, but now they need your help.
The team is currently in the first phase of its planning, rounding up ideas and figuring out the nuts and bolts of the project in its entirety.
“We really want people’s help to decide what’s going to go on the wall. We’d like to collect photos, videos, memorabilia, or at least stories that are reminiscent of the Greek presence there, so it could be iconic community members that hade big personalities or fought for the validity of the community. A lot of people might know Thomas Papadopoulos for instance, who was a famous bouzouki player but also community advocate and he did a lot with local and state government to push the Greek sentiment and organise events,” Kotsianis said.
GYG are keen to hear the community’s thoughts on what they might like to see memorialised in the mural as they await to find the perfect location in Footscray.
They invite everyone to share photos that capture Footscray’s Greek history, namely iconic community members and personalities, Philhellenes and supporters of the Greek community, businesses and workplaces and buildings, signs or architectural pieces.
Submissions of events like feast days, sporting events and demonstrations are also welcome, along with stories or excerpts that describe the social history of the area.
If you have something in mind for what you might like to see commemorated on a wall in Footscray, you can send your suggestions via their website gyg.org.au or email the team at email@example.com.