Sam Yong's 'Protecting Yarra's Unique Biodiversity' on Willowview and Collingwood Senior Citizens Centre

Wednesday 13 April 2022

Corner of building showing bats hanging from tree on one side and a lizard on a rock on the other
Image: 'Protecting Yarra's Unique Biodiversity' by Sam Yong. Image by J Forsyth.

Yarra City Council commissioned local artist Sam Yong to paint a series of artworks depicting the regions flora and fauna across the Willowview Centre and the Collingwood Senior Citizens Centre (CSCC) in 2020 to 2022.

Yarra's Aged and Disability Services consulted with users of the CSCC who decided that the outside of their building needed to match the spirit and brightness of the inside activities. The building is used for dancing, singing, exercise classes, meetings, shared meals and other activities involving seniors, families, Chinese veterans, the Greek Club, several different cultural groups and LGBTI community members. 

In June 2020, several walls of the building of the building that is located next to Collingwood Town Hall, were transformed into vibrant, natural settings teaming with life. Showcasing some of the region’s native flora and fauna, the murals include: a sugar glider, a blue tongue lizard, painted lady butterflies, an eastern spinebill and a red-rumped parrot in a setting of Banksia, Eucalypts and Chocolate Lillies.

Sam's murals reference the City of Yarra's Nature Strategy: Protecting Yarra's Unique Biodiversity 2020-2024. Usually small and unnoticed, on the walls of the building these species are rendered extraordinarily large, bringing into sharp focus the plight of these tiny creatures.

Following the extremely positive reaction to Sam Yong’s murals on the southern and western sides of the Collingwood Senior Citizens Centre; Council commissioned Yong to create four more murals on other sides of the building. Aligned with the same theme as the murals completed two years earlier, Yong, and his assistant Nicole Evans, painted grey-headed flying foxes, an Australian water dragon, a platypus and a spotted pardalote across the building in 2022.

These beautiful and refreshing artworks at the Collingwood Senior Citizens Centre and Willowview Centre have been greatly enjoyed and appreciated by many residents accessing our Yarra programs and services at this facility, as well as the wider community and passers-by.

Staff have frequently observed people taking the time to walk around the building and admire the murals. They have heard people express their appreciation and pleasure on seeing these artworks and have seen people taking photos and spending time with the work.

Person in a blue top touching lizard mural on the wall
Image: Pam, a Willowview program participant, interacting with the mural, 2022.

Quotes from program participants:

“It is so amazing and so live-like. These murals put a smile on your face; If you are having a rough day, they draw you in and you are lost in your thoughts. Just to look at them will brighten up your day”. Pam

“Colourful and joyful. It makes me feel uplifted.” Angela

“Beautiful painting. It makes me feel the service cares for us.” Jo

As a vibrant and diverse community, it’s great to see these stunning artworks positively touch people in a way that is inclusive and appreciative of all whilst extending our community’s awareness and knowledge of Yarra’s flora and fauna. Given Yarra’s urban landscape, the rich biodiversity in Yarra is often a wonder and delightful surprise to many.

Find out more about artist Sam Yong, the Collingwood Senior Citizens Centre and the Willowview Centre


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