Children’s street art talent brightens up centre

Alicia PereraPilbara News
Roebourne children and street artist Drew Straker with the feature wall mural they painted at Yaandina Family Centre for art project Walls of Respect.
Camera IconRoebourne children and street artist Drew Straker with the feature wall mural they painted at Yaandina Family Centre for art project Walls of Respect. Credit: Pilbara News, Alicia Perera

The bare outside walls that used to greet visitors to Roebourne’s Yaandina Family Centre are now bursting with colour after a collaborative street art project with a focus on culture.

Art project Walls of Respect gave local children visiting Yaandina these school holidays the chance to work alongside professional Australian street artist Drew Straker to make their mark on the building.

Working throughout last week, the group created three striking murals — a Pilbara landscape along the building’s front wall, a message of respect inside and a main feature artwork showing a group of people sharing stories around a camp fire.

Yaandina youth and family centre manager Evelyn Devereux said the project had begun as a centre beautification project to spruce up blank walls but turned into an exciting chance for children to express themselves artistically.

“I thought we’ll look at getting someone in to do it, but also if the children and young people are fully involved in the concept and the actual painting, then they’d have more ownership,” she said.

“I thought that it would give them a sense of pride, a sense of ownership and be good for their self-esteem and confidence to see what they’ve accomplished.”

Straker, a Perth-based graffiti artist who has created murals in New York, Indonesia and Melbourne, was selected from an expressions of interest process and developed the mural designs with Roebourne elders Pansy Hicks and Violet Samson.

Young people then took over much of the painting, especially on the main camp fire mural, under his guidance.

Straker said children always enjoyed the novelty of spraypaint art. “The entire graffiti art form was invented by kids in New York in the 70s. I can’t think of any other art form that’s invented by children,” he said.

“I think we grow up using paintbrushes and HB pencils in school so when it comes to a spray can, it kind of seems to excite people.”

He said he had been impressed at the level of street art talent among local children.

“They have a natural ability to do spray-can paintings really well and I’ve admired their eye for detail,” he said.

“The outcome is they’re quite professional-looking murals. You wouldn’t think that a kid had been involved.”

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