RePurpose YOUR Future: An art exhibition empowering Melbourne’s youth to respond to the climate emergency


    By Sally Walshe (AKA Lady Mohawke)

    In the face of escalating greenhouse gas emissions and the impending threat of climate change, I wanted to take a proactive stance, so I’ve created the RePurpose YOUR Future Art Workshops and Exhibition. This initiative aims not only to raise awareness about the alarming per capita emissions in Australia but also to empower young people to envision a sustainable and hopeful future.

    Australia’s per capita emissions are soaring at 15.4 tonnes of CO2 annually, more than double the global average of 6.5 tons of CO2 equivalent. Furthermore, global emissions are disproportionately contributed by the 10% of the population who earn the highest income. Recognising the urgency of the climate crisis, I wanted to stress the importance of empowering emerging young leaders with hope and actionable solutions.

    In response to these environmental challenges, RePurpose YOUR Future is a month-long youth-focused art exhibition and workshop series designed to empower and educate school-aged participants in Melbourne. It is also a part of the National Sustainability Festival for 2024. The project was born from observing young people being offered new materials to create art. I wanted to be an advocate for positive change, and to encourage young folk to think creatively and make art from what is available to them. 

    Key features of RePurpose YOUR Future:

    Circular economy in action:
    The project emphasises sustainability by utilising locally sourced recycled materials, generously sponsored by Green Collect – a social enterprise promoting a circular economy, as well as Footscray Primary School, Footscray High School, and local residents and businesses. We will also have local Footscray business, School of Sewing and Upcycling, at the workshops to offer youth the opportunity to make art from discarded textiles.

    Youth engagement:
    Participants have the unique opportunity to actively engage in every step of the process, from creating their artworks, to installing them at the exhibition. They will have the opportunity to make individual works, as well as collaborative art pieces.

    Opening night:
    The opening night on February 25, named RePurpose YOUR Future, will showcase the inspiring artworks crafted by participants. Local businesses, including Cheaper Buy Miles, Nans Bakehouse, Gordon Street Bakery, Pie Thief Pies, Hop Nation Brewing Co., and Mog Brew, will contribute surplus or damaged food and beverages to underscore the impact of reducing food waste.

    Extended exhibition:
    The exhibition will be open to the public until March 22, 2024, providing an extended opportunity for the community to engage with the creative artworks of Melbourne’s youth.

    Inspiring a sustainable future:
    The goal of RePurpose YOUR Future is not only to create awareness about climate change but to foster critical thinking in the young people regarding the materials they use. By encouraging them to dream big and think critically, the project aims to shape a generation that is both environmentally conscious and empowered to influence positive change.

    Important dates

    Workshops: February 24 & 25, 2024
    Exhibition opening night: February 25, 5–6:30 pm
    Exhibition closing: March 22, 2024
    Registration closes:February 20, 2024, or until full (parental supervision required for workshops and opening night) 

    RePurpose YOUR Future is supported by Maribyrnong City Council’s ‘Love Your West’ grant and is a part of the National Sustainability Festival 2024. 

    To register go to

    If you are a local business and want to contribute to the food and beverages on the Opening Night, or have supplies to donate to the art workshops, please contact Lady Mohawk at Follow @lady.mohowk on Instagram for event updates.

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