2021 Melbourne Art Trams: Thomas Marks

Monday 4 October

Thomas Marks’ rolling artwork, Walking on My Father’s Country, is one of the six Melbourne Art Trams designed exclusively by First Peoples artists in 2021.

WALKING ON MY FATHER’S COUNTRY

BY THOMAS MARKS (WOTJOBALUK/GUNAIKURNAI PEOPLES)

Tram Route: 6, 19

THOMAS MARKS
"This work represents walking on my father’s Country and the importance of leaving my footprints and connections. My father was a proud Wotjobaluk man. It’s a tribute to him, connecting our two spirits together as father and son. It shows flowering Indigenous plants that grow along the Wimmera River nurtured by the warmth of the sun and the river. These have provided food and cultural resources for Wotjobaluk people for generations."

Biography

Thomas "Marksey" Marks is a Wotjobaluk/Gunaikurnai man from Gippsland. Being one of many Stolen Generations children, he wasn’t able to grow up on his traditional country. As an adult, he is now proudly reclaiming his Aboriginal identity through art. Marks proudly acknowledges his involvement with the highly successful Pitcha Makin’ Fellas art collective in Ballarat before going to prison. He remembers meeting The Torch CEO, Kent Morris, at Indigenous art exhibitions and events and then again at Ravenhall Correctional Centre, where he joined The Torch Program in 2018.

“Becoming an artist has changed me in so many ways. It has given me a better perspective and outlook on life and it has taught me to have patience; I guess it’s created a whole new world for me and has given me a lot more confidence in myself,” says Marks, who is motivated by the injustices of his past, as a stolen generations child. This is strongly depicted in the poems written within his artworks.

“I guess I focus on things from my past, like the Stolen Generations. It wasn’t my choice, it’s something that was forced upon me. I not only get inspiration from my Stolen Generations background but through my subsequent life experiences in trying to connect back to my identity, culture and aboriginality. When I complete a painting, I feel I have achieved a little bit more of the healing process. It gives me a sense of belonging; a knowing of who I really am. It also gives me a sense that I can achieve anything that I put my mind too.”

2021 Melbourne Art Trams

The place now known as Melbourne is a city built on the lands of the Kulin Nation peoples; Traditional Owners who continue to maintain deep connections to their country, kin and waterways that have existed for tens of thousands of years.

In 2021, for the first time, each Melbourne Art Tram has been designed by a First Peoples artist. As a collective of moving artworks all six share with us the strength and beauty of creative cultural expression and the interwoven connections and continuous cultures of First Peoples in Victoria. Below you'll find links to the work of each contributing artist, as well as further reading on the curation and selection process undertaken by RISING:

IMAGES: JAMES MORGAN

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