The art of reconciliation

May 24, 2022

Indigenous artist Kevin Bynder in front of the Perth Mint's Refinery Indigenous mural  A global leader in precious metals and an award-winning visitor attraction, we are a major employer with more than 500 employees located across two sites in the metropolitan area.

Publicly committed to diversity and inclusion, with demonstrable success in the recruitment and retention of employees reflecting many of Perth’s cultural minorities, our strategy also includes increasing the representation of First Nations people, and more broadly, building stronger relationships with local Indigenous communities.

Moving stories aid understanding

Underpinning these efforts is the delivery of cultural awareness training to all employees, reflected in a recent initiative with Tony Shaw, founder of Indigenous Services Australia. A Wongutha person and a child of the Stolen Generation, Tony’s moving stories have had a powerful impact on the business.

For the first time in 120 years of operations, we now fly the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander flags in recognition of the fact that our premises stand on Whadjuk country, and that the Australian gold we refine is recovered from lands occupied for tens of thousands of years by many different cultural groups.

Visitors will also now hear Indigenous history and stories woven into official tours of the heritage building in East Perth.

Local artist gets involved

Local artist Kevin Bynder, a proud Whadjuk-Yuet-Ballardong man, is also accompanying us on our reconciliation journey.

Kevin is the creator of a diverse portfolio of vibrant and striking works including Indigenous jersey designs for high-profile sporting franchises (the West Coast Eagles, Perth Wildcats, and Perth Scorchers to name a few).

Following the creation of ‘Pretty Country’ for our REFLECT Reconciliation Action Plan, Kevin produced a stunning mural to welcome people at the entrance to our refinery. Titled Keyiny Moort (meaning ‘One Family’), the artwork contains six different paintings representing the main themes of our diversity focus, including Multiculturalism and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders.

He is convinced our claims to be genuinely engaged in these areas are authentic. “You can feel the difference between companies that just want to tick boxes, or people that don’t want to go further than a piece of artwork,” he says. “I felt The Perth Mint wanted to do more for Indigenous culture and they want to learn more.”

Kevin is pleased by our willingness to support The Magic Coat, a charitable project that aims to help kids feel safe and deal with negative feelings. He’s currently illustrating their new book featuring a host of relatable characters representing different mental health challenges.

“Having children of my own, I know mental health issues among young people are rising,” he explains. “They are our future, so we need to fix them up as much as we can, and hopefully this book does wonders for all children affected.”

Wider community messaging

While Kevin understands the power of art to help kids, he’s also keen to use it to teach the wider community about Aboriginal culture.

“My way of being able to pass on the knowledge I’ve learned from older family members is through my artwork,” he says.

“My culture has been around for 60,000 to 70,000 years; we’re the oldest living culture in the world. For people who don’t know much about it, art is one way we can get them to embrace what we know and what we do.”

“My art makes me feel I’m doing something good, helping us all move forward together.”

— Kevin Bynder

Design for a Perth Mint coin

Preparing an original design for a coin is something Kevin had not previously had the chance to experience, but like his famous sports shirts, murals and other works, he’s hopeful it will prove just as effective at promoting awareness and understanding.

Of course, with such a tiny canvas, the project presented a lot of different challenges, things he enjoyed discussing with artists in our design studio before choosing his subject.

And for that he was inspired by the black swan, a significant bird for Nyoongar people across the south-west, where it’s known by many as ‘maali’.

“You always hear stories about black swans from your older family, so you know they’ve always been around,” he says. “In a cultural sense maali is significant in Nyoongar country because it lives in very few other places. European explorers couldn’t believe they were seeing black feathered swans - we’re quite proud of that!”

A stunning example of his technique, the spectacular coin design represents maali with its wings out coming down to land on the Swan River.

The background is formed by stylised patterns of coloured dots inspired by a palette of ochre pigments used by Indigenous artists through time – reds and browns for the landscape, blues, greens and other hues for the water and its currents.

Kevin Coin resize

Black Swan Maali 2022 2oz Silver Antiqued Coloured Coin

Higher purpose

Having his work reproduced on a coin has made Kevin feel proud. “It’s just a wonderful feeling and it means a lot to me,” he says.

But beyond the artistic satisfaction, he thinks the coin can serve a higher purpose. As a Perth Mint collectable that will potentially spark interest around the world, it can help spread an important message.

“It’s not just educating people here, it’s educating people everywhere,” he states. “It’s just a simple coin, but as an expression of Aboriginal art and culture, there’s something they can learn from it - and that’s an awesome thing to happen.”

Kevin is now working on an artistic installation for us which promises to add a new dimension to the visitor experience. With travel and tourism re-opening, it has the potential to be seen by many thousands of Australian and international travellers in coming months – an outcome perfectly attuned to Kevin’s desire to work together towards better outcomes for his people.

Collect the coin

With a limited mintage of just 2,000, opportunities to acquire the coin featuring Kevin’s unique maali design are extremely limited.

Place your order for this outstanding Australian legal tender release, which comes in presentation packaging accompanied by a numbered Certificate of Authenticity, here.