Large-scale Indigenous artworks unveiled

The first large-scale public sculpture at La Trobe University in Melbourne’s north by an Indigenous artist has been unveiled. 

'Murri Totems' unveiled

The work by Reko Rennie is titled Murri Totems and comprises four brightly coloured multi-faceted columns. It combines traditional Aboriginal ceremonial poles with geometric shapes found in nature and western science.

It graces the forecourt of the new La Trobe Institute for Molecular Science (LIMS), a $100 million research and teaching complex specialising in biological structures and processes critical to combatting disease and tackling key environmental issues.

Vice-Chancellor Professor John Dewar praised the sculpture and said it was highly relevant in the way it symbolically melded western science and philosophy with Indigenous history and knowledge.

‘It is also a visually exciting and very modern sculpture. Murri Totems creates a wonderful entrance to our science areas that carry out work under La Trobe’s Research Focus Areas which range from understanding disease to securing food, water and the environment.' he said.

Artistic Director of the La Trobe University Museum of Art, Dr Vincent Alessi, said the work was also the first major sculptural commission on the Melbourne campus since the mid-1980s and an important addition to the University’s Art Collection and Sculpture Park.

‘Each pole has been designed using the five platonic solids – icosahedron, octahedron, star tetrahedron, hexahedron and dodecahedron – considered to be the building blocks of nature within the canon of Western science and philosophy,’ he said.

‘They have been painted with the Murri design, a traditional Indigenous diamond-shaped pattern, handed down to Reko Rennie by his father and grandfather. Hence the work brings together the Western world’s understanding of the building blocks of nature with those of the Indigenous world.’

Dr Alessi said the sculpture also celebrated traditional and contemporary Indigenous identity. ‘The present is especially evident in Rennie’s use of bright “spray-can-like” colours which pay homage to his urban upbringing and artistic education as a street artist.’

Media contact

Dr Vincent Alessi, La Trobe Museum of Art: T +61 3 9479 2111 | E

Ernest Raetz, Media and Communications: M +61 412 261 919