• The Redfern Terrace at 36 Caroline Street. Picture: City of Sydney (Supplied)Source: Supplied
The City of Sydney is inviting Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander artists to put forward ideas for a ‘living museum’ in Redfern that will help pass on local history to new generations.
Danny Teece-Johnson

19 Apr 2016 - 5:00 PM  UPDATED 19 Apr 2016 - 5:03 PM

The City will commission an artist, or artistic team, to take over a 1880s terrace house adjacent to The Block and transform it with historical and contemporary tales from residents, workers and visitors – and potentially collect contemporary stories as well.

During 2012 and 2013 the first Eora Journey public art project, undertaken to launch the City’s Eora Journey, Recognition in the Public Domain program, resulted in a striking mural covering its exterior.

Inner Sydney’s Aboriginal community fear being pushed out
The towers, gentrification and what will happen when the last public housing in Sydney’s traditional Aboriginal neighbourhood disappears. A special report by Danny Teece-Johnson.

Known as 'Welcome to Redfern', this major street art project was the result of a collaboration between prominent Aboriginal artist Reko Rennie and young local Aboriginal artists.

Eora Journey Curatorial Adviser, Hetti Perkins, has led the City’s Recognition in the Public Domain program, and said she was excited by the creative potential for a Redfern Terrace museum.

"The Redfern Terrace presents a unique opportunity to document and celebrate Redfern stories – from the everyday lives of families to the enduring legacy of this heartland of Aboriginal activism,” Ms Perkins said.

“As a living museum, where stories are creatively integrated with the building, the Redfern Terrace will become a landmark for generations to come.”

Long time Redfern resident Donna Ingram runs Redfern Walking Tours and currently takes groups past the last standing terrace in Redfern.

“Anything that promotes the history of Redfern, in particular the Aboriginal History of Redfern is a good thing. I also do the Redfern Walking Tours, and I often take people to that part of the building to talk about the current mural that is on there as part of the Eora Journey. But also the general history of the Community Centre, when it was built, and yeah I think it’s a great thing to promote Aboriginal History in Redfern.”

Redfern local, actor and artist Angeline Penrith says that it’s a great idea, but tourists have to know that the fight for the Block is still ongoing, and the Redfern mob want to return there.

“I like the idea that there will be a place where the history of Redfern can be accessible, but using an old building in the Block implies that there is no longer an Aboriginal community living here, and wanting to live back at the block and that simply is not true. People love Aboriginal History and Culture just not Aboriginal People.”

Lord Mayor Clover Moore said the City welcomed all concepts for the ‘Redfern Terrace’ that would celebrate and make visible the diverse stories and local histories of the Block and beyond.

“The City is committed to recognising and celebrating the living culture of our First Peoples, and Redfern is rich with stories of urban Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander life,” the Lord Mayor said.

“The project is inspired by the pride, courage and resilience of Australia’s First Peoples and the history of Redfern as a hub of Sydney’s cultural life and the home of Aboriginal activism in Australia.

Inspired by New York’s famed Tenement Museum for immigrant stories and the Susannah Place Museum in The Rocks, the City hopes the Redfern Terrace will become an important artwork and iconic landmark in a rapidly changing urban environment.

The terrace, located at 36 Caroline Street, on the corner of Hugo Street in Redfern, was built in the early 1880's and is the only surviving terrace from a larger row that has since been demolished.

It was saved from the wrecking ball in 2000, to be retained for potential community uses.

Alarm after Block's developer taken to court for alleged shoddy work
News that Deicorp, the developer set to transform the Block, is being sued by the residents of one its other developments for alleged million-dollar defects has Redfern community leaders concerned.

The budget for the Redfern Terrace public art project is $500,000 and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander artists working independently, or in collaboration with Indigenous or non-Indigenous artists and designers, are invited to submit expressions of interest.

The City has committed $300,000 for building works that will be determined by the design concept.

The successful proposal should outline ways to engage with the community, including former and current residents, as well as local businesses and organisations. The artistic team may include a cinematographer, editor, sound artist, exhibition designer and architect.

“It’s hoped the Redfern Terrace museum will set a benchmark for the contemporary artistic interpretation of social history,” the Lord Mayor said.

Submissions are due by Monday, May 30, 2016 at 11am.