Statues announced to honour Uncle Archie Roach AM and Aunty Ruby Hunter in Yarra
Thursday 27 October 2022
Today the Victorian Government announced that statues honouring the late Uncle Archie Roach AM and Aunty Ruby Hunter are to be created and installed in Fitzroy.
Yarra City Council and the Wurundjeri Woi-wurrung Cultural Heritage Aboriginal Corporation will commission an artist to create statues that will be installed at a location yet to be confirmed, in Fitzroy. The artwork will celebrate their achievements in music and in community. It will also pay tribute to the Stolen Generations and the area’s rich Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander history.
Fitzroy is an important place for Aboriginal communities for many reasons, but importantly, it is the place where many survivors of the Stolen Generations found family for the first time. It is where Archie found his brothers and sisters and reconnected to his culture.
“I remember good times with my dear baby brother Archie in Fitzroy/ Collingwood and Ruby right beside him,” said Aunty Myrtle Roach, Archie’s sister. “We shared many good times here together as a family. Being back here reminds me of those times. I miss those time now. May the spirit of dear Archie and Ruby always be here.”
Archie and Ruby loved Fitzroy. It is woven through their stories and intrinsically linked to their music, with many of their iconic songs celebrating the streets of the area.
Yarra Mayor Cr Sophie Wade said the statues will honour Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander history and culture, and the story of two talented community leaders, who are beloved by the nation.
“The story of Archie Roach and Ruby Hunter is truly unique and needs to be shared,” Cr Wade said. “This artwork will bring new audiences to their music and spark a revival from devoted fans, while also highlighting the important Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander history of this area.”
“Yarra Council’s number one priority in our Arts and Culture Strategy is that our Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander arts and cultures be at the heart of Yarra, and we are working to increase the prominence of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander arts and culture throughout the municipality,” Cr Wade added.
“The artworks will also help to address the under-representation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in public statues, and highlight the challenges faced by Stolen Generation survivors,” Cr Wade said.
Tracey Evans, niece of Archie and Ruby, shared her family’s connection to the area.
“Archie had a deep love and connection to ole Fitzroy,” Evans said. “Ruby, his lifelong partner and soul mate also shared in Archie’s life journey through the alleyways and parks of Gertrude Street. It was here that Archie met his brothers and sisters many years ago. As a Stolen Generation [survivor] his search for family brought him to the streets of Fitzroy, reconnecting him to his people and immersing him in his culture. He was finally home and for the first time in his life he finally belonged.”
“Archie’s iconic songs ‘Charcoal Lane’ and ‘F Troop’ reminisce about the days of ole Fitzroy. Ruby’s song ‘Down City Streets’ also tells the story of life on the streets. They are songs of survival. The memory of Archie Roach and Ruby Hunter lives here and will always be a part of this town,” Evans said.
The statues are anticipated to be installed in November 2023.
Top of this page: Aunty Ruby Hunter and Uncle Archie Roach AM, pictured in 1990. Photo by Maree Clarke.
Home page: Aunty Ruby Hunter and Uncle Archie Roach AM pictured together, 1992-1994. Photo by Brian Rapsey.
Yarra City Arts are now inviting expressions of interest from artists who are experienced in creating figurative bronze sculptures to be considered for this project.