Image courtesy of Rising ( and James Morgan Photography (

Artist Thomas Marks’ artwork chosen for Melbourne Art Tram Program

The Melbourne Art Trams Program returned this year courtesy of RISING and Curator Kimberley Moulton with all designs by First Peoples artists.

Wotjobaluk/Gunaikurnai man and The Torch participant Thomas Marks submitted his artwork “Walking on my Father’s Country” and was successfully chosen from close to 60 applications as one of the six works to be adapted onto a tram.

We are so proud of Marksey and congratulate him on this incredible accomplishment.

Excerpt from

Artwork: Walking on my Father’s Country

Tram Route: 6 and 19

This work represents walking on my father’s Country and the importance of leaving my footprints and connections. My father was a proud Wotjobaluk man. It’s a tribute to him, connecting our two spirits together as father and son. It shows flowering Indigenous plants that grow along the Wimmera River nurtured by the warmth of the sun and the river. These have provided food and cultural resources for Wotjobaluk people for generations.

Thomas ‘Marksey’ Marks is a Wotjobaluk/Gunaikurnai man from Gippsland. Being one of many Stolen Generations children, he wasn’t able to grow up on his traditional country. As an adult, he is now proudly reclaiming his Aboriginal identity through art. Thomas proudly acknowledges his involvement with the highly successful Pitcha Makin’ Fellas art collective in Ballarat before going to prison. He remembers meeting The Torch CEO, Kent Morris, at Indigenous art exhibitions and events and then again at Ravenhall Correctional Centre, where he joined The Torch Program in 2018.

Becoming an artist has changed me in so many ways. It has given me a better perspective and outlook on life and it has taught me to have patience; I guess it’s created a whole new world for me and has given me a lot more confidence in myself.

Thomas is motivated by the injustices of his past, as a stolen generations child. This is strongly depicted in the poems written within his artworks.

I guess I focus on things from my past, like the Stolen Generations. It wasn’t my choice, it’s something that was forced upon me. I not only get inspiration from my Stolen Generations background but through my subsequent life experiences in trying to connect back to my identity, culture and aboriginality.

When I complete a painting, I feel I have achieved a little bit more of the healing process. It gives me a sense of belonging; a knowing of who I really am. It also gives me a sense that I can achieve anything that I put my mind too.

View the RISING video of Thomas here and view his latest artwork here.

RISING is a major cultural event for the Asia Pacific Region, created by a diverse team of local, national and international artists and curators.

RISING will begin on the evening of the total lunar eclipse in May 2021. Interlocking circles of experience and connection will radiate through the night, as the city re-synchronises and is re-energised with public art, performance and music spanning the emerging and iconic, the epic and intimate.

The inaugural festival will take place 26 May – 6 June 2021 in the heart of Melbourne.