First Nations art brightens up Northcote construction site

Construction at the Northcote Aquatic and Recreation Centre is full steam ahead, and a beautiful new artwork has popped up along Victoria Road.

Artist and visual storyteller Dixon Patten (Bitja) has livened up the Northcote Aquatic and Recreation Centre construction site with a mural showing the significance of our waterways, flora and fauna and community.

Dixon is a proud Gunnai, Yorta Yorta, Gunditjmara and Dhudhuroa man and grew up in Darebin. He says the Northcote pools were a safe, communal space he could catch up with friends and family.

“Seeing a lot of mob there, it was a culturally safe for First Nations people in Darebin, so the area feels like home,” says Dixon.

Dixon’s artwork honours the waterways on Wurundjeri Woiwurrung Country and the murnong – the yam daisy – a staple food for the people of the Kulin Nation. It nearly went extinct but is thriving once again.

“Food universally brings people together, and I think it was important to honour that,” says Dixon.

Dixon also collaborated with Wurundjeri Elders on the artwork, which took a few months. He says getting their blessing to work on it was pretty special.

“That’s why I got into the arts, to Indigenise spaces and remind people that no matter where you go, you’re on Country.” 

“With the modern world there’s a lot of information thrown at us daily, and we have to not forget the traditions and language of the Old People,” says Dixon.

What else is happening at NARC?

  • We're officially out of the ground!
  • Demolition and excavation works are complete and we have poured concrete slabs.
  • Structures for the three pools are complete and testing will start shortly.
  • Steel structures are currently being installed.


Dixon standing with his mural on the construction site fencing. Image courtesy of Kane Jarrod Photography.