Coolum High celebrates new mural

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Coolum State High School is home to a new and unique piece of art – a huge mural adorning the wall of their canteen depicting the story of Coolum students at high school as told from a First Nations perspective. The art piece was commissioned by the Coolum State High School P&C after seeing a similar mural at another local school. Pictured are Coolum State High School Principal Troy Ascott, artist Nikita Jarmen Fitzpatrick from New Dreaming Art and Coolum High P&C President Nicole Sklenars. Photo: Travis Macfarlane

Coolum state high school is proud to show off their new art piece which is a huge mural painted on the back of their canteen and through conversations with students and staff, the story of Coolum State High School has been painted with First Nations symbols and imagery by Nikita Jarmen Fitzpatrick of New Dreaming Art who is a self-taught second-generation First Nation artist.

The customised mural for Coolum State High School incorporates the elements of earth, water, and the sky and it includes the sun and the moon, the significant landmarks in the area and colours, which have special significance to the story of the school.

Nikita stated that throughout the painting process, respect to the traditional custodians of the land – the Gubbi Gubbi and Kabi Kabi people – were acknowledged.

“The P&C asked me to do this after they saw my work at another school and this was a collaboration based around the Coolum students and what was important to them.

“I asked the first nation’s students and this is my interpretation of that – it really is a beautiful collaboration.”

“The blue lines indicate the presence of waterway located on the traditional lands around Coolum State High and the brahminy kite flying over Mount Coolum has a connection to the Coolum State High School logo,” Nikita said.

“Mount Coolum has a significant cultural meaning and plays an important role in wildlife habitat for country.

“The different colours show the different earth tones alongside the school colours and the circle located on the top of the brahminy kite represents the rising moon.”

The green dots with small white dots are Nikita’s personal style of dots used in her paintings and Nikita explained the symbolism of the tree.

“The paperbark tree represents the growth that the students will experience throughout their high school journey and the lines on the trees are a different genetic linage of the First Nations students.

“The leaves of the tree are covered with the totems of all First Nations students at the school and the totems represent the different families and their tie to the country.”

The completed mural. Photos: Travis Macfarlane

Principal Troy Ascott said the entire school community was excited to have been able to work with Nikita on this project.

“It is a stunning artwork and you can visibly see students and staff smile as they walk past it,” Mr Ascott said.

“The mural tells a story about the passage of students through the six years of high school within this special environment surrounded by the water of the ocean and the rivers.  The sun and moon are both rising on either side of the mural, and are separated by a magnificent paperbark tree.

“The mural adds colour, life, vibrancy and brilliance to the environment of the school and I believe Nikita is a major new artist and is at the start of what will be a celebrated career.”

P&C President Nicole Sklenars further emphasised the praise for Nikita’s work.

“Coolum High School P&C has been overwhelmed with positive feedback on the mural from students, staff and parents and the students, in particular, have been praising the artist – they were very engaged in the process and are very proud to have this as a feature of their school.”

About the artist

Nikita was born on Gurang Gurang Country, with heritage connected to the Wuthati tribe and Darumbal people. The artist found her passion for creating art through her emotions to connect back to her culture. Nikita’s art is contemporary First Nations Australian with a cultural twist and she predominantly creates with canvas and acrylics whilst using various mediums, textures and symbols in her art.  New Dreaming Art is about connecting old with new stories in a respectful way by exploring basic knowledge and understanding of First Nations art, history, storytelling, and nature.

You can find more of Nikita’s and New Dreaming Art on Instagram and Facebook by searching ‘New Dreaming Art’.

Artist Nikita Jarmen Fitzpatrick intricately finishing off the mural

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