Mural tells the story of women

Jodie reckons she’s the luckiest woman in the world. Strange sentiment from a woman who has been knocked around for much of her life and ended up at McAuley House after years of domestic violence and abuse. But that’s how she sees things at the moment as she prepares to move into the new McAuley House in Pickett St, Footscray.

Jodie’s sense of hope and resilience is reflected in one of the murals that adorn a ground floor wall of the new building. Jodie, 44, who has loved drawing and painting most of her life, was invited to join another resident, Mandy, in decorating parts of the mural which was designed and painted by street artists Lucy Lucy and Kaff-eine.

In describing the work, Lucy Lucy and Kaff-eine said: “The mural depicts a collection of diverse and inspirational women representing strength, pride, bravery, peace, love, happiness and solidarity. The centre of the mural features a stag, which represents Ireland, the Sisters of Mercy country of origin; and a kangaroo, representing Australia, the current location of the new McAuley House.”

The women depicted on the mural include Funmilayo Ransome-Kuti (1900–1978), leading activist during Nigerian women’s anti-colonial struggles; French woman Joan of Arc, patron Saint of soldiers and France and Rosie the Riveter, a cultural icon of the United States, representing the American women who worked in factories and shipyards during World War II.

Jodie was given the chance to decorate one of the women’s dresses and wrote words of hope and inspiration on her dress including, bountiful, tough, sanctuary and serenity.

The artists also gave her paints to continue her artistic pursuits by decorating furniture to go into her own bedroom in the new building. She said the focus of her art, and in particular the woman she decorated, is inspirational, reflecting a lot of what has happened to her since arriving at McAuley House in April.

“I was sitting in the gutter crying because I had no where to go, I didn’t know what to do. These two kind ladies stopped, bundled me into their car and took me to the police station, then I ended up in hospital and then eventually I got to McAuley Care refuge and then to safety at McAuley House,” Jodie said.

Mandy, who has been living at McAuley House for six months after leaving a violent relationship, also decorated the dress of one of the ‘mural women’. She painted orange squares on the woman’s dress and gave her some jewellery. She loves that the mural features women from many different backgrounds and believes this is a reflection of life at McAuley House. Some look happy and others are sad and that’s life at McAuley House.

While Mandy, 52, loves the new building, she is also a little sad to be leaving the old house. “The old place is really the first home I have ever had where I felt safe. So I feel a bit like I am leaving home,” Mandy said. But some things won’t change including Mandy’s regular Friday external art classes.

Both women are thrilled that their artwork will now be ‘exhibited’ for the first time as part of the mural.

5 December 2016