A rounded wall inside a community centre, over a sofa. On the wall is a mural made of carved vertical pieces of plywood, which create a 3-dimensional image of Aboriginal rock art.
A rounded wall inside a community centre. On the wall is a mural made of carved vertical pieces of plywood, which create a 3-dimensional image of Aboriginal rock art. On one end of the mural is a plaque.

Plywood wall art references the Aboriginal rock art found in the Sydney basin to respect the traditional owners and create harmony between cultures.

Artist: Charles ‘Chicka’ Madden, Nicole Monks and UFO

Artwork description

Mana Ngurang is a 7m-long eco-friendly plywood ‘mural’ mounted on a curved black painted wall. It is located in the Elders Lounge on the first floor of the Redfern Community Centre, which commissioned the artwork.

The project was developed by Aboriginal artist and designer Nicole Monks, in collaboration with Gadigal elder and artist Charles ‘Chicka’ Madden and architect Dirk Anderson from Urban Future Organisation.

The mural is made up of around 100 sections of plywood, fixed vertically to the wall by their edges. Carved to slightly different shapes and depths, the plywood pieces create a vibrant three-dimensional effect.

The artwork, based on Madden’s design and community consultation, represents the traditional lands of the Gadigal people where Redfern is located. Inspired by the style of Aboriginal rock art found in the Sydney basin, the work depicts human figures and animals that once inhabited the local area.

As well as respecting the traditional owners of the land, this artwork is intended to create harmony between cultures.

The fabrication and installation of the artwork was made possible with the support of project partners Murobond, Global Ventures Australia and Keystone Acoustics.

“The rock art I chose to be displayed here, on the Elders lounge mural is from the Sydney basin. The animals are found inland but were also along the coast in the early days. The fish are from around saltwater country and the Goanna should be there somewhere as this is the totem for the Gadigal people.”

– Charles ‘Chicka’ Madden, Gadigal elder and artist


Uncle Charles ‘Chicka’ Madden is a respected Sydney Elder of the Gadigal people. He has lived in the inner-city area of Sydney for most of his life, serving the Aboriginal community as director of the Aboriginal Medical Service, secretary of the Metropolitan Local Aboriginal Land Council, director of the Aboriginal Hostels NSW and is a life member of the Redfern All Blacks.

As well as an active community leader, Uncle Chicka is an important artist who has created a number of ceramic sculptures and paintings inspired by his Gadigal country.

Nicole Monks is a trans-disciplinary artist of Yamatji Wajarri, Dutch and English heritage. In addition to her solo practice, Nicole is well known for her success as a collaborative artist and as founder of blackandwhite creative.

Dirk Anderson is an architect and director of the Sydney branch of Urban Future Organization, a collective of self-organised architectural practices who share common design strategies. His work has been exhibited at galleries internationally including the Venice Biennale of Architecture.

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