On Friday, July 21, Footscray’s Yewers Street burst to life when GYG organised an event, inviting the public to meet the people behind Footscray’s Hellenism project, and bear witness to the creation of a 250 square meter mural, that pays homage to the region’s rich Greek heritage.
The event took place amidst the vibrant atmosphere of Twilight StrEAts, which is supported by the Maribyrnong council, right in the heart of the laneway, where the mural is set to come alive in August.
The lively music set the scene, as attendees gathered at The Line to exchange ideas, make new connections, outdoors and under the cover of the warehouse space.
Adding to the festive vibe, food trucks tempted taste buds, with aromas of souvlaki, meat on the grill, burgers, sweet crepes, waffles, and an assortment of beverages.
Dean Kotsianis, a key organiser driving the project, took the stage, and stressed the importance of preserving the stories of iconic Greek-Australian figures, that have significantly shaped Footscray’s Hellenic heritage.
“What we’ve done is dug into history, met a lot of people, and added to the social record of these stories. Over two years, we’ve met with a lot of first generation Greek migrants in the area, their families, and we’ve listened to their stories, that have defined Footscrays’ Greek happenings from the 60s, until today.”
Kotsianis expressed concern about the “fading” of the area’s “Greek chapter” and urged everyone to witness the creative process of the mural being painted “throughout August.”
He also placed emphasis on the project’s “broader multicultural and intercultural relevance,” encouraging attendees to share their own stories that resonate with the local “Greek presence.”
The event showcased GYG’s collaborations with scented candles linked to references in the mural, to create a sensory experience for visitors. A documentary screening also shared the stories of the individuals depicted in the mural, establishing a personal connection between the audience and the subjects of the artwork.
Speaking to Neos Kosmos, Kotsianis highlighted how initiatives like the mural serve as a “stimulus,” evoking memories and inspiring conversations, that end up becoming a point of engagement for anyone who shares a connection with the suburb’s narrative.
“Our onlookers are projecting different internal worlds and experiences on the mural project. In turn they’re creating their own extra, significances feelings and connections out of it,”he added.
During his speech, Kotsianis also acknowledged and thanked “the elders for their generosity and hospitality” in sharing their story, without whom the project “would not have been made possible.”
The event truly celebrated Footscray’s multicultural spirit, leaving everyone eager for the mural’s completion and the fascinating narratives it will reveal for generations to come.
With the essence of Greek hospitality at its core, the project extends an “open-door policy” invitation, welcoming all to enjoy and become part of this tribute to the area’s cultural tapestry.