RECENT EXHIBITION ~ KURUNPA KUNPU | STRONG SPIRIT
5 MAY - 23 JULY 2023 ~ FREMANTLE ARTS CENTRE
Kuruṉpa Kuṉpu | Strong Spirit is the outcome of a 3-year, cross-cultural design collaboration between Tanya Singer, Errol Evans and Trent Jansen that began when Tanya, Errol and Maruku Arts invited Trent to their homelands at Railway Bore in remote South Australia. The designers Yarned while they worked in Railway Bore and in Thirroul on the New South Wales South Coast, learning from, and about, each other’s unique relationships with Country, family and community. By engaging with their respective cultural practices and traditions, the designers have realised a collection of works that speak to the resilience of both First Nations People and ngura (Country), celebrating the potential for inter-cultural collaboration to embody diverse cultural values and lived experiences.
Engaging processes of Deep Listening to each other and Country, the collection is in part a response to climate change experienced by the designers’ communities in remote South Australia and a poignant reminder of the need for environmental responsibility and action. The rapidly warming, drying landscape threatens the lives of community members and the ecosystem and, in turn, connection to Country and culture. Employing motifs of drying, cracked earth and protection, the collection is a powerful visual representation of the critical thresholds in the Earth’s system and the consequences of pushing against those boundaries. Kuruṉpa Kuṉpu | Strong Spirit invites reflection on the distribution of environmental burdens and benefits and the importance of reengaging in Relationality between community, culture and Country.
The material choice of American hardwood species provides not only a visual contrast between the more temperate and arid regions of the planet but also an opportunity to investigate the scientific underpinning of claims of sustainability and environmental responsibility. The analysis of the collection’s impact on the environment, including its contribution to global warming, is presented to emphasise the significance of considering environmental factors when choosing materials and the practice of good design.
Manta Pilti | Dry Sand
Manta Pilti (Dry Sand) has been designed by Tanya Singer and Trent Jansen to communicate the time critical catastrophic effects human induced climate change is inflicting on Country around Indulkana in remote South Australia.
For countless generations, Relational correlations between seasonal patterns of plants and animals have supported life in Indulkana, governing food collection, hunting, totemic relationships, and Law on Country. As the climate changes, these age-old relationships are thrown out of alignment.
Tanya’s references include the Parakeelya flower, a personally significant, seasonal, and small purple bloom, which was her mother’s favourite. It once blanketed the Indulkana hills and is now seen far less frequently. This once plentiful bloom is now only found in hard-to-spot patches far from the road, because of the increased heat, reduced rainfall and dry, sandy soil caused by climate change.
This fading bloom and the dry sand in which it grows are emblematic of hotter, dryer Country and tangible examples of ecosystem degradation in this region. They form the conceptual focus for the collaboration. Tanya and Trent have used the motif of cracking sand and Tanya’s interpretation of her mother’s favourite flower to inform the design of a furniture collection that can communicate this complex and troubling narrative.
Kutitji | Shield
Kutitji Chair (Shield), designed by Errol Evans and Trent Jansen, results from Errol’s passion for carving large objects. Errol is a highly skilled wood (punu) artist, known for embodying sophisticated cultural narratives in large carved forms including spears, nyura, tjutinypa and shields. In carving these large objects, Errol usually begins with a chainsaw to rough out the form before using other mechanised and manual tools to painstakingly shape these highly refined artefacts.
This project began as a sketch exchange between Errol and Trent, a process that began with a drawing by Errol, incorporating traditional weapons and shields as components of a chair. Through several iterations of call and response, Errol and Trent refined this idea to mimic Errol’s beautifully refined, large shield forms, generating a simple chair structure that draws on the idiosyncratic lines and surfaces of these artefacts. Kutitji Chair (Shield) is an expression of Errol’s concerns about the impacts of climate change and the drying out of Country. He sees these shields as a defence against changing times.
In addition to The American Hardwood Export Council, this project has been supported by:
The Australian Government through the Australia Council, its arts funding and advisory body, Arts South Australia, the Department of the Premier and Cabinet, the University of New South Wales Art & Design, Maruku Arts, The National Gallery of Victoria’s Melbourne Design Week, Artbank and Fremantle Arts Centre.
Kuruṉpa Kuṉpu | Strong Spirit was originally supported and presented by Fremantle Arts Centre, 2021-23.
Kuruṉpa Kuṉpu | Strong Spirit is presented in association with Maruku Arts, a non-for-profit arts and crafts organisation, supporting Aṉangu throughout the Western and Central Deserts. Tanya Singer and Errol Evans are represented by Maruku Arts.
Makers – Chris Nicholson and Mast Furniture
Exhibition Design – Glenn Iseger-Pilkington
Graphic Design – Marcus Piper
Fremantle Arts Centre,
1 Finnerty Street,
5 May – 23 July 2023
Image Credit – Beck Mansell and Fiona Susanto