EXHIBITION OPENING SOON ~ TRANSFORMATIVE REPAIR

2 - 10 JUNE 2022 ~ AUSTRALIAN DESIGN CENTRE, SYDNEY

On 2 June, 2022 the Australian Design Centre will host a ground-breaking design event curated by Guy Keulemans and Trent Jansen, an auction of creatively repaired broken objects provided by notable climate change activists, creatives and champions of design from Sydney and the Illawarra. A selection of emerging and leading Australian artists, designers and craftspeople were specially commissioned to reinterpret these objects using innovative approaches to repair and reuse. In partnership with the ADC, the University of South Australia, the University of New South Wales and JamFactory Craft and Design, and funded by the Australian Research Council, this project develops and tests new models for the sustainable use of materials and products, establishing new opportunities for consumers, collectors and the public to thoughtfully and beautifully repair their broken things.

Contributors include:

World renowned science fiction artist and body architect Lucy McRae has transformed a collection of unsalable garments from fashion designer Bianca Spender. Combining the garments with a well-used Knoll chaise lounge designed by Richard Schultz in 1966 and found by McRae on Craig’s List in Los Angeles, McRae creates a striking addition to her iconic survival/compression series.

Leading Australian industrial designer David Caon has repaired and transformed a broken Vespa motor scooter donated by actor and climate change activist Yael Stone. With a focus on function and aesthetic sophistication, Caon has updated the scooter through styling changes both bold and subtle and mechanical repair to deliver a sophisticated contribution to the custom and modding genres of automotive design.

Contemporary jeweller Kyoko Hashimoto received two broken model aeroplanes from musician and aeronautical design enthusiast Hugo Gruzman of Flight Facilities. Hashimoto has sensitively repaired a model Cesna 310 owned by Hugo’s pioneering aviator grandfather. Then, in collaboration with Australian-born, Texas-based visual artist Ebony Fleur, Hashimoto 3D scanned the model and minted an animated NFT of the aeroplane in flight. Rounding off her transformative repairs, Hashimoto has taken a model Qantas 747, the “Queen of Skies”, and transformed it into the zenith of jewellery typologies: a crown.

Nyikina artist and craftsman Illiam Nargoodah, hailing from Fitzroy Crossing in the Kimberley Region of Western Australia, received a broken axe from scientist, explorer and conservationist Tim Flannery. Through creative application of his metal working skills, Nargoodah transformed the axe into a poetic visual narrative or tableau vivant, expressing the power and agency of the axe as an instrument of production. Nargoodah then used a small off cut from this metalsmithing, and created a replica miniature axe, as a gift for Flannery.

Master weaver Liz Williamson and collaborator Tulla Carson were tasked with the challenge of restoring two extraordinary Plan-o-spider chairs owned by Sydney gallerist Sally Dan-Cuthbert, designed in France by Hoffer and manufactured by Plan in the 1950s. Williamson and Carson built on the provenance of the chairs and stretched the conventions of restoration by using new materials and a colour palette that brings these once disintegrating Plan-o-spider chairs into the 21st century. Williamson then used the scrap elastic from the old webbing to create a series of beautiful weavings, challenging the expectations of what can be done with waste.

Leading Australian furniture designer Adam Goodrum obtained a magnificent but damaged aluminium lamp, designed by the Campana Brothers and provided to the project by Italian furniture manufacturer Edra. In a poetic response, Goodrum chose to transition the lamp from a pendant lamp to a standard lamp using only the existing aluminium components of the original lamp. Goodrum and his studio assistant, Xavier Tafft, slowly and painstakingly disassembled and reassembled the hundreds of aluminium components to manifest this transformation.

From 2-10 June, 2022 this exciting and eclectic mix of objects will be on display at the Australian Design Centre on Williams Street in Sydney. On 9 June, 2022 the works will be auctioned by Andrew Shapiro, Sydney’s noted auctioneer with 30 years of experience across collectible design and decorative arts.

Where
Australian Design Centre,
101/113-115 William Street,
Darlinghurst, NSW

Exhibition dates
2 – 10 June 2022

Supporters
Australian Design Centre
University of South Australia
University of New South Wales
Jam Factory
Australian Research Council

Image Credit – Traianos Pakioufakis

RECENT INSTALLATION ~ BALIT-DHAN BALIT-NGANJIN (THEIR STRENGTH OUR STRENGTH)

MARCH 2022 ~ WESLEY PLACE, MELBOURNE

Balit-dhan Balit-nganjin (Their Strength Our Strength) was designed in collaboration with Maree Clarke to commemorate an extraordinary story, the founding of Coranderrk, a reserve created by the Kulin Nations to serve as a foothold in the colonial economy and as a sanctuary for the Indigenous Australian communities of Melbourne.

The commodity crop of Coranderrk was hops, a flavouring agent used in the production of beer. The entire process was industrially managed at the reserve; from the hops bines to the Oast Houses, Coranderrk delivered a commercial product to the local market. At the height of hops production, around 1880, Coranderrk had at least seven commercial hops gardens and won a number of awards for the quality of its produce. The success of the Coranderrk hops farm brought autonomy, sanctuary and independence to those who lived and worked on the reserve and is evidence of the resilience of this community, quickly and against extreme adversity thriving in this colonial context.

As part of this hops farming operation, members of the Coranderrk community cut 26,000 hops poles – long tree branches used to support the hops plant as it is grown vertically. This pole is an emotive and unmistakable symbol of hops farming on the Coranderrk Reserve as well as the ingenuity and toil of the Kulin Nation hops farmers who forged a livelihood for their community from this unlikely crop.

The original route taken by a group of forty people of the Kulin Nations into the Yarra Ranges and to the eventual site of the Coranderrk Reserve is known as the Black Spur. As the route of this great pilgrimage, the Black Spur has obvious historical and cultural significance, leading to a place where these communities were able to establish a degree of autonomy, sanctuary and independence that had previously evaded them post colonisation. To date, this journey has gone largely un-mythologised. We hope to change this.

The photographs of the Black Spur taken around this time depict a region of unchallenged Country. The vague suggestions of roads appear to be part of the flora, the edges blending seamlessly into bush, their contours matching the land, looking like they could be consumed by the scrub at any moment. This must have been a welcome site to those pilgrims seeking a place of sanctuary from the creep of colonisation. Here the Country was winning over the colonisers, and the relentless will of the bush could still be felt.

We see this stretch of road as historically and metaphorically significant to our two protagonists, William Barak and Louisa Briggs. As the track travelled to the formation of the Coranderrk Reserve, a path that provided their people sanctuary on their journey and a path along which to build dreams of their destination.

William Barak was a Wurundjeri man, an important patriarch of the Wurundjeri clan and the Kulin Nations. According to Uncle Larry Walsh, Barak found power at the eventual Coranderrk settlement in part because of the specific location of this settlement, on Wurundjeri land. This final location gave Barak influence over those from other communities, as the decisions made at Coranderrk were formed on the land of his ancestors, land that had been under the care and control of the Wurundjeri for countless generations, and land over which they maintained ultimate control.

As an important patriarch of the Kulin Nations, Barak was given the privilege of harnessing fire. According to Maree Clark, fire sticks, along with the knowledge required to generate fire, was men’s business for the Kulin nations, and this right of access enhanced Barak’s power and influence over his community. Fire is also an element of importance to the journey the Kulin Nation clans made along the Black Spur in the months leading up to March 1863. According to Uncle Larry Walsh, this region of the Yarra Ranges is the site at which the Kulin Nations were first given fire by Bunjil, and as such, this important creation story would have been present in the thoughts and story-telling of those traversing the Black Spur during this meaningful pilgrimage.

The texture of charcoal was used in one of the final bench designs to represent William Barak. The seat of this bench was constructed using fragments of charcoal and reproduced in a highly accurate lost-wax bronze casting process, registering every textural facet of the charcoal in bronze facsimile. A patina was then applied to the bronze, recreating the complex matt blacks, greys and browns of charcoal and adding to the visual texture of the seating surface.

Louisa Briggs was a matriarch of importance to the Boon Wurrung clan of the Kulin Nations, with family connections also to the Eastern Straightsmen and Trawlwoolway clan of north-eastern Tasmania, both through her mother, Polly Munro and her husband, John Briggs. Briggs had a complex life, working as a shepherd in the Beaufort district and a squatter near Violet Town during the gold rush. Between 1853 – 1871 Briggs and her husband John had nine children, and during the work scarcity which followed the gold rush Briggs and her family made their way to Coranderrk.

Briggs’ history at Coranderrk begins in 1874, when she worked as a nurse and dormitory matron and lead the community during rebellions at Coranderrk. In 1878, following her husband’s death, Briggs and her children were forced out of Coranderrk, only to return again in 1882. Again in 1886, Briggs and her family were exiled from the reserve, pleading with the board to allow her return, a request that was denied due to Briggs’ Tasmanian heritage. Between 1886 and 1925, Louisa made several unsuccessful attempts to return to Coranderrk, each time denied entry because of her Tasmanian heritage. Briggs died in September 1925, on the Cumeroonunga Aboriginal Reserve, on the New South Wales side of the Murray River, away from the community she so longed to be part of.

According to Maree Clark, the river reed bares significance to Briggs’ life as an important matriarch of the Kulin Nations. The construction of river reed necklaces was and remains an important women’s business tradition in this region, bestowed upon visitors to the area who had arrived from other communities, welcoming them onto Kulin Country for a predetermined period of time. The visitor was to wear the necklace at all times while on Kulin Country, as an indication of their status as a visitor, and so that no harm would come to them during their visit. Briggs was both welcomed at Coranderrk and exiled as an outsider, depending on the internal politics of the reserve in any given year. The river reed is a poignant symbol for Briggs’ tumultuous relationship with status and her ongoing struggle with welcome on Kulin Country.

The texture of river reeds is used on one of the final benches to represent Louisa Briggs. The seat of this bench is constructed from cut sections of river reed, traditionally used to make river reed necklaces. This surface was reproduced in a highly accurate lost-wax bronze casting process, registering every textural surface of the river reeds in bronze. A patina was then applied to the bronze, reproducing the mottled colour palette of the reeds and adding to the visual texture of the seating surface.

Balit-dhan Balit-nganjin (Their Strength Our Strength) constitutes two sculptural benches, designer by Maree Clarke and Trent Jansen to commemorate the ingenuity, rigour and pragmatism of the Kulin Nations and their establishment of the Coranderrk reserve. The benches extract two fundamental elements of the community, its culture and economy: The seats of the benches represent both the river reeds that elders such as Louisa Briggs used to create necklaces, to be worn by guests onto country, and charcoal, a remnant of the fire given to the Kulin Nations by Bunjil in the Yarra Ranges and wielded by the men of the community, including key patriarch William Barak. The long, vertical uprights signify the poles on which the hops plant was grown. These elements represent the pragmatic, sophisticated, yet deeply traditional leadership exhibited by people such as William Barak and Louisa Briggs – both central to the Coranderrk story.

These seats convey the strength and vision of two great leaders and their economic and cultural aspirations for themselves, their families and their communities.

Where
Wesley Place,
130 Lonsdale Street,
Melbourne, Victoria

Commissioner – Charter Hall

Creative Direction and Production – Broached Commissions

Production – Axolotl and Crawford’s Casting

Image Credit – Dean Lever

 

RECENT EXHIBITION ~ AUSTRALIAN FURNITURE DESIGN AWARDS EXHIBITION

17 - 27 MARCH 2022 ~ STYLECRAFT, MELBOURNE DESIGN WEEK

Swamp Creature (working title), was on show at Stylecraft during Melbourne Design Week.

I had originally intended to entitle this work ‘Bunyip’, a name drawn from a story about a swamplurking mythical Australian creature that is such a ubiquitous part of Australian culture that it has inspired the name of countless products and places all over the continent. From the Bunyip of Berkeley’s Creek, a 1973 children’s book written by Jenny Wagner; to Bunyip the film, directed by Miri Stone in 2015; and the South Australian weekly regional newspaper called The Bunyip, servicing Gawler, the Barossa Valley and Adelaide Plains. There’s a toy company, a pub and even a range of vapes named after the Bunyip. The Bunyip is such a strong part of the Australian vernacular that when I mentioned the creature to my grandmother, she insisted that it was a real, living Australian mammal.

My interest in the Bunyip grew from this ubiquity, but it was Robert Holden’s research into the origins of this myth that inspired my interest in using it as the foundation for a design project. According to Holden, the name of the bunyip resulted from a linguistic misunderstanding in the early years of colonisation between Indigenous Australian peoples, who thought of it as an English word and British colonisers who understood it as a local term. I have been working with Australian mythology as inspiration since my PhD in 2017 which analysed several of Australia’s most common nation-building myths and found that they were all culturally exclusionary. They all celebrated the culture of authorship and excluded other Australian cultures of great significance, particularly Indigenous Australian cultures. According to Holden’s research, the bunyip was the myth I had been searching for, a quintessentially Australian narrative with shared cultural origins, a myth that could reach across cultural divides and be claimed and celebrated by Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians.

As the project evolved, I sought to verify Holden’s research and found that his claims are inaccurate. Holden asserts that the bunyip has shared cultural origins, but there is strong consensus concluding that it originated on Wemba-Wemba Country, along the tributaries of what is now known as the Murray River in Victoria. The average Australian using the bunyip as inspiration for their places, products and tourist attractions does not know the true origins of this story, making the bunyip a clear example of the slow but certain creep of colonisation. This narrative has been adopted by the mainstream, and just like the countless Australian names of places, animals, plants and practices, the origins of the bunyip have been long forgotten and its true cultural significance omitted.

Pivoting from the bunyip narrative, I have taken time to consider the motivations driving the project, to better understand the themes and ideas that have led to the final design outcome.

This project aimed to use a uniquely Australian narrative, shared by many Australians across cultural divides, as the foundation for a united identity, with the potential to bring together members of our culturally disparate population under a single Australian story. It referenced the story of a creature that is known to lurk in a specific Australian ecosystem, the swamps and billabongs of our deepest, darkest rainforests. Rainforests are a quintessential Australian landscape and our conception of the archetypal Australian rainforest and/or the relationships many of us form with specific rainforests constitute part of our individual and shared experiences of Australian place and identity. For others, deeply embedded in alternate ecosystems, the arid scrub or weather-beaten coastline may be the landscape most typically Australian. For many of us these natural places are intuitively linked to our comprehension of, and connection to Australia.

Instead of referencing existing Australian creature stories, over time this project will imagine a series of invented creatures, each designed to reside in an archetypal Australian landscape. The first prototype in this collection is Swamp Creature (working title) (developed for the Australian Furniture Design Award), but experimentation is underway on another two creatures who are at home in Australian eucalypt forests and grassy plains respectively. Their colouration, texture, materiality and form reference their home ecosystem and allow them to camouflage and thrive in their natural environment.

Building on the tradition of Australian Gothic in antipodean creative practice, the Swamp Creature (working title) is silent and still, submerged in its stagnant pond, its skin wrinkled with constant exposure to moisture and stained by dark, viscous mud. This idea was given form through experimentation, as many iterations were tested to generate a combination of texture, colour, materiality and form that would embody this narrative. The final design incorporates an asymmetrical body, padded with thick, soft and segmented polyurethane foam. This form is then wrapped using a free-form version of the capitone upholstery technique, giving the Swamp Creature (working title) an irregular, wrinkled, bulging and dark leathery skin.

Where
Stylecraft,
145 Flinders Lane,
Melbourne, Victoria

Exhibition dates
17 – 27 March 2022

Supporters
Gallery Sally Dan-Cuthbert
National Gallery of Victoria
Stylecraft
Jam Factory

Image Credit – Jeremy Park

RECENT EXHIBITION ~ GALLERY SALLY DAN-CUTHBERT

16 - 20 MARCH 2022 ~ MELBOURNE DESIGN FAIR

The Ngumu Janka Warnti Cabinet, designed in collaboration with Johnny Nargoodah, was on show with Gallery Sally Dan-Cuthbert at Melbourne Design Fair.

From Trent’s point of view, Ngumu Janka Warnti is an experiment in the generation of hybrid material culture. Material Culture Theory says that the artefacts we create embody the values, ideas, attitudes and assumptions (the culture) of the creator. But what if an artefact is created collaboratively by two people from different cultures? Does this artefact exhibit the cultural values of both authors? If so, how do these cultural values manifest?

From Johnny’s point of view, the project has a few different aspects to it: Making – “we use rubbish, recycled frames, we make chairs and cabinets and use the leather to make it look good, to make it furniture that is usable and looks nice”; recycling – “it is important to reuse old rubbish we find, and the leather makes it special”; history – “the leather gives it a reference to the history of Fitzroy Crossing and station life. Saddlers used to come and repair saddles using leather, making twisted rope out of cowhide. This is what I think about when we are using the leather”; and sensory – “the smell of that leather is so good. It brings back memories, triggers those old memories of walking around the saddle room in Noonkanbah shed. There is a sensory response, that’s important.”

“The collaborative process and experimentation is key to this project. Trent and I work together on this, we both sketch, look at each other’s sketches and from there we mix it up.  I’m really enjoying the skills sharing, learning from each other, we both have a lot of different ideas, we keep coming up with new works, keep experimenting.”

Where
Gallery Sally Dan-Cuthbert,
Melbourne Design Fair,
Warehouse 16, 28 Duke Street,
Abbotsford, Victoria

Exhibition dates
16 – 20 March 2022

Supporters
Gallery Sally Dan-Cuthbert
National Gallery of Victoria
Mangkaja Arts Resource Agency
Australia Council for the Arts
Western Australian Department of Local Government, Sport and Cultural Industries

Image Credit – Jeremy Park

RECENT EXHIBITION ~ BROACHED COMMISSIONS

16 - 20 MARCH 2022 ~ MELBOURNE DESIGN FAIR

The Pankalangu Armchair and Bowl, designed as part of Broached Monsters, was on show with Broached Commissions at Melbourne Design Fair.

The Pankalangu is a story that is told to children throughout Central and Northern Australia, but according to Western Arrernte story telling, pankalangu is a territorial being that lives in the scrub and is completely camouflaged in the desert and bush. Pankalangu can only move with the rain, and is made visible when the rain that falls on him is caught by the light, defining his form in a glistening silhouette.

After undertaking consultation with elders and senior custodians at Hermannsberg to gain permission to reference this scary story, Trent began to interpret the Pankalangu as a series of furniture pieces.

As pankalangu is a Central Australian creature, Trent’s interpretations were formally influenced by of some of the unique characteristics of other creatures from this region. Both the perente and the Central Australian locust became major influences as these animals possess an ochre coloured, camouflaged exterior that masks an iridescent, hidden element – the perente hides a lilac tongue and the locust hides its beautifully translucent blue wings.

The Pankalangu Armchair and Bowl are designed interpretations of pankalangu – these animals are adorned with scales which camouflage as they move, but when the light catches these copper scales their form is defined by a glistening silhouette.

Where
Broached Commissions,
Melbourne Design Fair,
Warehouse 16, 28 Duke Street,
Abbotsford, Victoria

Exhibition dates
16 – 20 March 2022

Supporters
Broached Commissions
National Gallery of Victoria

Image Credit – Michael Corridore

RECENT EXHIBITION ~ WE CHANGE THE WORLD

6 MAY 2021 - 27 MARCH 2022 ~ NATIONAL GALLERY OF VICTORIA, MELBOURNE

The Jangarra Armchair, designed for Fremantle Art Centre’s ‘In Cahoots’, was on show at the National Gallery of Victoria, as part of the ‘We Change the World’ exhibition.

‘We Change the World’ shares the work of prominent contemporary Australian and international artists and designers drawn from the NGV Collection, including works new to the Collection and on display for the first time. It considers issues such as the climate emergency, entrenched inequalities and humanitarian injustices, while also foregrounding the importance of identity, culture and expression to the wellbeing of communities and individuals.

“I like the armchair, it’s a proper Jangarra ngurra, the Jangarra could hide behind that one. It’s ok that someone might have that in their home as furniture, it’s an easy story they can understand, don’t you think?”

– Rita Minga, artist at Mangkaja Arts.

The Jangarra Armchair was designed by Rita Minga, Johnny Nargoodah, Trent Jansen, and Wes Maselli, and made by these artists as well as Gene Tighe, Elsie Dickens, Duane Shaw, Illiam Nargoodah, Mayarn Lawford, Eva Nargoodah and Yangkarni Penny K-Lyons. It has been created in two locations very far apart; Fitzroy Crossing in the remote Kimberley region of Western Australia, and the Wollongong region on the east coast of New South Wales.

According to Rita’s accounts, Jangarra is known colloquially as the ‘man killer’. A large, hairy man who carries a boomerang and a shield, Jangarra (or, ‘that Jangarra-bloke’) is known to crouch down and hide behind large rocks and anthills, observing his prey from this hidden position in the landscape. She recalls being told the story of Jangarra as a child by the old people at night, around the campfire: “They told us not to go close to the big mungku, the big anthills, because it was Jangarra ngurra, the home of that big man, Jangarra. As kids we’d go a long way hunting for a goanna, we’d dig under the small anthills but not the large ones, afraid of this man who might hurt us.” Rita is adamant that Jangarra is a real person, a real man.

A group of dedicated Mangkaja artists, including Johnny Nargoodah, Illiam Nargoodah, Gene Tighe, Eva Nargoodah and Elsie Dickens, along with Rita Minga and Trent Jansen, began to carve coolamon-like forms from locally felled Jartalu trees. The basic forms were given shape by Rita, Gene, Eva and Elsie, who hand-carved these organic objects using axes. The constant sound of axe-chipping was calming, yet over time become the soundtrack of hard work. The forms were further refined by Johnny, Illiam and Trent using an angle grinder fitted with a wood carving head. Wearing goggles and soon covered in wood chunks and dust they resembled creatures themselves.

Once the coolamons were formed, Johnny, Wes and Trent took them to the river, driving straight branches into the sand to generate an armature on which to position the coolamons as components of the chair. This armature allowed the Jangarra Armchair to be designed in three-dimensions and in real-time, placing the coolamons upside down and adjusting and rearranging them with the aim of generating an overall form that referenced both the anthill and the Jangarra ngurra.

Another important aspect of the Jangarra was the addition of traditional human hair string making. Myarn and Penny, the last two remaining people in Fitzroy Crossing who still have the skill to practice, teach and make human hair string in the traditional way. This is culturally significant to the Jangarra story given the now rare hair string creation skills and the subsequent reinvigoration of these skills for the project.

Where
Ian Potter Centre: NGV Australia,
Federation Square,
Melbourne, VIC

Exhibition dates
6 May 2021 – 27 March 2022

Supporters
National Gallery of Victoria
Fremantle Arts Centre
Mangkaja Arts Resource Agency
Australia Council for the Arts

Image Credits
Installation views of We Change the World at The Ian Potter Centre: NGV Australia, Melbourne from 7 May – 19 September 2021. Image courtesy NGV.

Photography – Eugene Hyland and Bo Wong

RECENT EXHIBITION ~ HISTORY IN THE MAKING

20 MAY 2021 - 30 JANUARY 2022 ~ NATIONAL GALLERY OF VICTORIA, MELBOURNE

The Ngumu Janka Warnti (All Made from Rubbish) High Back Chair, designed and made in collaboration with Johnny Nargoodah, was on show at the National Gallery of Victoria, as part of the ‘History in the Making’ exhibition.

‘History in the Making’ showcases contemporary design across diverse creative fields to explore how the physical properties and origins of materials, design histories and narratives are entwined with systems of production and, in-turn, shape human culture.

Through the classifications of animal, plant, mineral and synthetic, the works on display create dialogues between the past, present, and future of materials in the production of designed goods and objects. They offer broad perspectives on social, ethical, environmental, economic, and technological issues driving present day innovation, debate, and change.

Drawn from the NGV Collection, ‘History in the Making’ presents experimental, one-off, and limited-edition craft and design to mass-produced goods and fashion, highlighting the relationships between natural and synthetic materials, supply chains and markets, underpinned by approaches to design production, which are making history.

From Trent’s point of view, this project is an experiment in the generation of hybrid material culture. Material Culture Theory says that the artefacts we create embody the values, ideas, attitudes and assumptions (the culture) of the creator. But what if an artefact is created collaboratively by two people from different cultures? Does this artefact exhibit the cultural values of both authors? If so, how do these cultural values manifest?

From Johnny’s point of view, the project has a few different aspects to it: Making – “we use rubbish, recycled frames, we make chairs and cabinets and use the leather to make it look good, to make it furniture that is usable and looks nice”; recycling – “it is important to reuse old rubbish we find, and the leather makes it special”; history – “the leather gives it a reference to the history of Fitzroy Crossing and station life. Saddlers used to come and repair saddles using leather, making twisted rope out of cowhide. This is what I think about when we are using the leather”; and sensory – “the smell of that leather is so good. It brings back memories, triggers those old memories of walking around the saddle room in Noonkanbah shed. There is a sensory response, that’s important.”

“The collaborative process and experimentation is key to this project. Trent and I work together on this, we both sketch, look at each other’s sketches and from there we mix it up.  I’m really enjoying the skills sharing, learning from each other, we both have a lot of different ideas, we keep coming up with new works, keep experimenting.”

Unlike their Jangarra Armchair, a previous collaboration designed and made in Fitzroy Crossing, Partu was developed in Thirroul on the New South Wales Coal Coast. Johnny and Trent came together four times over a period of 18 months, developing new methods for collaboration that could shape their incongruent knowledge, methods and skills in designing and making into co-authored outcomes. These methods include: ‘Sketching exchange’, a process of back and forth sketch iteration, allowing an idea to evolve with equal input from both creators; and ‘designing by making’, a method of working with materials at full scale, to design an object as it is being made. In this approach the prototype is the sketch and both collaborators work together to carve, construct and/or manipulate material, giving the object three-dimensional form as they design and make simultaneously.

Ngumu Jangka Warnti is the Walmajarri phrase for ‘all made from rubbish’. The design of this collection began with a trip to the local scrap metal yard, in a vague search for anything interesting. Johnny and Trent salvaged a selection of discarded aluminium mesh and used this found metal as the starting point for experimentation. Trent and Johnny designed these pieces as they made them, starting with a mesh substrate cut vaguely in the shape of a chair, and together beat the material with hammers, concrete blocks and tree stumps until it took on a form that they both liked. This beaten geometry was then softened by laminating New Zealand saddle leather to skin the mesh, masking its geometry and softening its idiosyncratic undulations.

Words by Trent Jansen and Johnny Nargoodah.

Where
NGV International,
Level 3, Contemporary Art & Design,
Melbourne, VIC

Exhibition dates
20 May – 30 January 2022

Supporters
National Gallery of Victoria
Mangkaja Arts Resource Agency
Australia Council for the Arts

Image Credits
Installation views of History in the Making at NGV International from 22 May – 24 October 2021. Image courtesy NGV.

Photography – Sean Fennessy and Romello Pereira

RECENT EXHIBITION ~ GALLERY ALL

11 - 14 NOVEMBER 2021 ~ ART021, SHANGHAI, CHINA

The Ngumu Janka Warnti High Back Chair and Low Chair, designed and made in collaboration with Johnny Nargoodah, and the Pankalangu Wardrobe and Side Table were recently on show with Gallery All at ART012 in Shanghai, China.

Founded in 2013, ART021 Shanghai Contemporary Art Fair is a constituent member of the Shanghai International Arts Festival. ART021 brings together the top galleries, institutions, artists and their works from around the world, aiming at building a platform for galleries, institutions, collectors and sponsors.

From Trent’s point of view, Ngumu Janka Warnti is an experiment in the generation of hybrid material culture. Material Culture Theory says that the artefacts we create embody the values, ideas, attitudes and assumptions (the culture) of the creator. But what if an artefact is created collaboratively by two people from different cultures? Does this artefact exhibit the cultural values of both authors? If so, how do these cultural values manifest?

From Johnny’s point of view, the project has a few different aspects to it: Making – “we use rubbish, recycled frames, we make chairs and cabinets and use the leather to make it look good, to make it furniture that is usable and looks nice”; recycling – “it is important to reuse old rubbish we find, and the leather makes it special”; history – “the leather gives it a reference to the history of Fitzroy Crossing and station life. Saddlers used to come and repair saddles using leather, making twisted rope out of cowhide. This is what I think about when we are using the leather”; and sensory – “the smell of that leather is so good. It brings back memories, triggers those old memories of walking around the saddle room in Noonkanbah shed. There is a sensory response, that’s important.”

“The collaborative process and experimentation is key to this project. Trent and I work together on this, we both sketch, look at each other’s sketches and from there we mix it up.  I’m really enjoying the skills sharing, learning from each other, we both have a lot of different ideas, we keep coming up with new works, keep experimenting.”

The Pankalangu is a story that is told to children throughout Central and Northern Australia, but according to Western Arrernte story telling, pankalangu is a territorial being that lives in the scrub and is completely camouflaged in the desert and bush. Pankalangu can only move with the rain, and is made visible when the rain that falls on him is caught by the light, defining his form in a glistening silhouette.

After undertaking consultation with elders and senior custodians at Hermannsberg to gain permission to reference this scary story, Trent began to interpret the Pankalangu as a series of furniture pieces.

As pankalangu is a Central Australian creature, Trent’s interpretations were formally influenced by of some of the unique characteristics of other creatures from this region. Both the perente and the Central Australian locust became major influences as these animals possess an ochre coloured, camouflaged exterior that masks an iridescent, hidden element – the perente hides a lilac tongue and the locust hides its beautifully translucent blue wings.

The Pankalangu Wardrobe, Armchair and Side-table are designed interpretations of pankalangu – these animals are adorned with scales which camouflage as they move, but when the light catches these copper scales their form is defined by a glistening silhouette.

Where
ART021,
Shanghai Exhibition Centre,
Shanghai, China

Exhibition dates
11 – 14 November 2021

Supporters
Gallery All
Broached Commissions
Gallery Sally Dan-Cuthbert
Mangkaja Arts Resource Agency
Australia Council for the Arts
UNSW Art & Design
Western Australian Department of Local Government, Sport and Cultural Industries

Image Credit – Gallery All, Michael Corridore and Romello Pereira

AWARDS ~ NGUMU JANKA WARNTI (ALL MADE FROM RUBBISH) COLLECTION

OCTOBER 2021 ~ THE DESIGN FILES & LAMINEX DESIGN AWARDS

We are very pleased to say that the Ngumu Janka Warnti Collection by Johnny Nargoodah and Trent Jansen won both the Furniture Design and Collaboration categories of the 2021 Design Files and Laminex Design Awards.

Thanks to The Design Files, Laminex, Jardan Furniture and Thames and Hudson for their support of this awards program.

Thanks also to Belinda Cook and Liam Kennedy from Mangkaja Arts for their tireless support of this project and our ongoing collaboration.

Thanks lastly to Gallery Sally Dan Cuthbert and Arc One for exhibiting this work in 2020.

From Trent’s point of view, this project is an experiment in the generation of hybrid material culture. Material Culture Theory says that the artefacts we create embody the values, ideas, attitudes and assumptions (the culture) of the creator. But what if an artefact is created collaboratively by two people from different cultures? Does this artefact exhibit the cultural values of both authors? If so, how do these cultural values manifest?

From Johnny’s point of view, the project has a few different aspects to it: Making – “we use rubbish, recycled frames, we make chairs and cabinets and use the leather to make it look good, to make it furniture that is usable and looks nice”; recycling – “it is important to reuse old rubbish we find, and the leather makes it special”; history – “the leather gives it a reference to the history of Fitzroy Crossing and station life. Saddlers used to come and repair saddles using leather, making twisted rope out of cowhide. This is what I think about when we are using the leather”; and sensory – “the smell of that leather is so good. It brings back memories, triggers those old memories of walking around the saddle room in Noonkanbah shed. There is a sensory response, that’s important.”

“The collaborative process and experimentation is key to this project. Trent and I work together on this, we both sketch, look at each other’s sketches and from there we mix it up.  I’m really enjoying the skills sharing, learning from each other, we both have a lot of different ideas, we keep coming up with new works, keep experimenting.”

Unlike their Jangarra Armchair, a previous collaboration designed and made in Fitzroy Crossing, Partu was developed in Thirroul on the New South Wales Coal Coast. Johnny and Trent came together four times over a period of 18 months, developing new methods for collaboration that could shape their incongruent knowledge, methods and skills in designing and making into co-authored outcomes. These methods include: ‘Sketching exchange’, a process of back and forth sketch iteration, allowing an idea to evolve with equal input from both creators; and ‘designing by making’, a method of working with materials at full scale, to design an object as it is being made. In this approach the prototype is the sketch and both collaborators work together to carve, construct and/or manipulate material, giving the object three-dimensional form as they design and make simultaneously.

Ngumu Jangka Warnti is the Walmajarri phrase for ‘all made from rubbish’. The design of this collection began with a trip to the local scrap metal yard, in a vague search for anything interesting. Johnny and Trent salvaged a selection of discarded aluminium mesh and used this found metal as the starting point for experimentation. Trent and Johnny designed these pieces as they made them, starting with a mesh substrate cut vaguely in the shape of a chair, and together beat the material with hammers, concrete blocks and tree stumps until it took on a form that they both liked. This beaten geometry was then softened by laminating New Zealand saddle leather to skin the mesh, masking its geometry and softening its idiosyncratic undulations.

Words by Trent Jansen and Johnny Nargoodah.

Supporters
Gallery Sally Dan-Cuthbert
Mangkaja Arts Resource Agency
Australia Council for the Arts
UNSW Art & Design
The Design Files
Laminex
Jardan Furniture
Thames and Hudson

Image credit – Design Files & Laminex and Romello Periera.

RECENT EXHIBITION ~ CLARENCE PRIZE

16 JULY - 15 AUGUST 2021 ~ ROSNY BARN, TASMANIA

The Ngumu Janka Warnti (All Made from Rubbish) Bench, designed and made in collaboration with Johnny Nargoodah, was on show at the Rosny Barn, as part of the ‘Clarence Prize for Excellence in Furniture Design’ exhibition.

The Clarence Prize is a biennial exhibition that has found its niche within Australia’s art community celebrating innovative furniture design.

Entries were shortlisted based on the quality of aesthetic and craft, and ingenuity in function, purpose, material considerations and sustainability.

From Trent’s point of view, this project is an experiment in the generation of hybrid material culture. Material Culture Theory says that the artefacts we create embody the values, ideas, attitudes and assumptions (the culture) of the creator. But what if an artefact is created collaboratively by two people from different cultures? Does this artefact exhibit the cultural values of both authors? If so, how do these cultural values manifest?

From Johnny’s point of view, the project has a few different aspects to it: Making – “we use rubbish, recycled frames, we make chairs and cabinets and use the leather to make it look good, to make it furniture that is usable and looks nice”; recycling – “it is important to reuse old rubbish we find, and the leather makes it special”; history – “the leather gives it a reference to the history of Fitzroy Crossing and station life. Saddlers used to come and repair saddles using leather, making twisted rope out of cowhide. This is what I think about when we are using the leather”; and sensory – “the smell of that leather is so good. It brings back memories, triggers those old memories of walking around the saddle room in Noonkanbah shed. There is a sensory response, that’s important.”

“The collaborative process and experimentation is key to this project. Trent and I work together on this, we both sketch, look at each other’s sketches and from there we mix it up.  I’m really enjoying the skills sharing, learning from each other, we both have a lot of different ideas, we keep coming up with new works, keep experimenting.”

Unlike their Jangarra Armchair, a previous collaboration designed and made in Fitzroy Crossing, Partu was developed in Thirroul on the New South Wales Coal Coast. Johnny and Trent came together four times over a period of 18 months, developing new methods for collaboration that could shape their incongruent knowledge, methods and skills in designing and making into co-authored outcomes. These methods include: ‘Sketching exchange’, a process of back and forth sketch iteration, allowing an idea to evolve with equal input from both creators; and ‘designing by making’, a method of working with materials at full scale, to design an object as it is being made. In this approach the prototype is the sketch and both collaborators work together to carve, construct and/or manipulate material, giving the object three-dimensional form as they design and make simultaneously.

Ngumu Jangka Warnti is the Walmajarri phrase for ‘all made from rubbish’. The design of this collection began with a trip to the local scrap metal yard, in a vague search for anything interesting. Johnny and Trent salvaged a selection of discarded aluminium mesh and used this found metal as the starting point for experimentation. Trent and Johnny designed these pieces as they made them, starting with a mesh substrate cut vaguely in the shape of a chair, and together beat the material with hammers, concrete blocks and tree stumps until it took on a form that they both liked. This beaten geometry was then softened by laminating New Zealand saddle leather to skin the mesh, masking its geometry and softening its idiosyncratic undulations.

Words by Trent Jansen and Johnny Nargoodah.

Where
Rosny Barn,
Rosny Hill Road,
Rosny Park, TAS

Exhibition dates
16 July – 15 August 2021

Supporters
Gallery Sally Dan-Cuthbert
Mangkaja Arts Resource Agency
Australia Council for the Arts
UNSW Art & Design

Image credit – Remi Chauvin and Clarence City Council

RECENT EXHIBITION ~ GALLERY ALL

10 - 13 JUNE 2021 ~ JINGART, BEIJING, CHINA

The Ngumu Janka Warnti High Back Chair and Low Chair, designed and made in collaboration with Johnny Nargoodah, and the Pankalangu Wardrobe and Side Table were recently on show with Gallery All at JINGART in Beijing, China.

Established in 2018, JINGART aims to combine the dynamic culture of Beijing with the international art market. Presenting the best quality art and design of different eras and genres, JINGART builds a diverse platform for local and international exhibitors, collectors, artists and art lovers. JINGART is managed by the team of ART021 Shanghai Contemporary Art Fair and is held in Beijing in May every year.

From Trent’s point of view, Ngumu Janka Warnti is an experiment in the generation of hybrid material culture. Material Culture Theory says that the artefacts we create embody the values, ideas, attitudes and assumptions (the culture) of the creator. But what if an artefact is created collaboratively by two people from different cultures? Does this artefact exhibit the cultural values of both authors? If so, how do these cultural values manifest?

From Johnny’s point of view, the project has a few different aspects to it: Making – “we use rubbish, recycled frames, we make chairs and cabinets and use the leather to make it look good, to make it furniture that is usable and looks nice”; recycling – “it is important to reuse old rubbish we find, and the leather makes it special”; history – “the leather gives it a reference to the history of Fitzroy Crossing and station life. Saddlers used to come and repair saddles using leather, making twisted rope out of cowhide. This is what I think about when we are using the leather”; and sensory – “the smell of that leather is so good. It brings back memories, triggers those old memories of walking around the saddle room in Noonkanbah shed. There is a sensory response, that’s important.”

“The collaborative process and experimentation is key to this project. Trent and I work together on this, we both sketch, look at each other’s sketches and from there we mix it up.  I’m really enjoying the skills sharing, learning from each other, we both have a lot of different ideas, we keep coming up with new works, keep experimenting.”

The Pankalangu is a story that is told to children throughout Central and Northern Australia, but according to Western Arrernte story telling, pankalangu is a territorial being that lives in the scrub and is completely camouflaged in the desert and bush. Pankalangu can only move with the rain, and is made visible when the rain that falls on him is caught by the light, defining his form in a glistening silhouette.

After undertaking consultation with elders and senior custodians at Hermannsberg to gain permission to reference this scary story, Trent began to interpret the Pankalangu as a series of furniture pieces.

As pankalangu is a Central Australian creature, Trent’s interpretations were formally influenced by of some of the unique characteristics of other creatures from this region. Both the perente and the Central Australian locust became major influences as these animals possess an ochre coloured, camouflaged exterior that masks an iridescent, hidden element – the perente hides a lilac tongue and the locust hides its beautifully translucent blue wings.

The Pankalangu Wardrobe, Armchair and Side-table are designed interpretations of pankalangu – these animals are adorned with scales which camouflage as they move, but when the light catches these copper scales their form is defined by a glistening silhouette.

Where
JINGART,
National Culture Centre,
Beijing, China

Exhibition dates
10 – 13 June 2021

Supporters
Gallery All
Broached Commissions
Gallery Sally Dan-Cuthbert
Mangkaja Arts Resource Agency
Australia Council for the Arts
UNSW Art & Design
Western Australian Department of Local Government, Sport and Cultural Industries

Image Credit – Gallery All, Michael Corridore and Romello Pereira

ACQUISITION ~ NGUMU JANKA WARNTI (ALL MADE FROM RUBBISH) HIGH BACK CHAIR

MARCH 2021 ~ NATIONAL GALLERY OF VICTORIA

The 1st Artists’ Proof of the Ngumu Janka Warnti (All Made from Rubbish) High Back Chair has been acquired by the National Gallery of Victoria.

Thanks to Ewan McEoin, Simone LeAmon and Myf Doughty for selecting this work to join the prestigious permanent collection of this great public institution.

Thanks also to Gallery Sally Dan Cuthbert and Arc One for exhibiting this work in 2020.

From Trent’s point of view, this project is an experiment in the generation of hybrid material culture. Material Culture Theory says that the artefacts we create embody the values, ideas, attitudes and assumptions (the culture) of the creator. But what if an artefact is created collaboratively by two people from different cultures? Does this artefact exhibit the cultural values of both authors? If so, how do these cultural values manifest?

From Johnny’s point of view, the project has a few different aspects to it: Making – “we use rubbish, recycled frames, we make chairs and cabinets and use the leather to make it look good, to make it furniture that is usable and looks nice”; recycling – “it is important to reuse old rubbish we find, and the leather makes it special”; history – “the leather gives it a reference to the history of Fitzroy Crossing and station life. Saddlers used to come and repair saddles using leather, making twisted rope out of cowhide. This is what I think about when we are using the leather”; and sensory – “the smell of that leather is so good. It brings back memories, triggers those old memories of walking around the saddle room in Noonkanbah shed. There is a sensory response, that’s important.”

“The collaborative process and experimentation is key to this project. Trent and I work together on this, we both sketch, look at each other’s sketches and from there we mix it up.  I’m really enjoying the skills sharing, learning from each other, we both have a lot of different ideas, we keep coming up with new works, keep experimenting.”

Unlike their Jangarra Armchair, a previous collaboration designed and made in Fitzroy Crossing, Partu was developed in Thirroul on the New South Wales Coal Coast. Johnny and Trent came together four times over a period of 18 months, developing new methods for collaboration that could shape their incongruent knowledge, methods and skills in designing and making into co-authored outcomes. These methods include: ‘Sketching exchange’, a process of back and forth sketch iteration, allowing an idea to evolve with equal input from both creators; and ‘designing by making’, a method of working with materials at full scale, to design an object as it is being made. In this approach the prototype is the sketch and both collaborators work together to carve, construct and/or manipulate material, giving the object three-dimensional form as they design and make simultaneously.

Ngumu Jangka Warnti is the Walmajarri phrase for ‘all made from rubbish’. The design of this collection began with a trip to the local scrap metal yard, in a vague search for anything interesting. Johnny and Trent salvaged a selection of discarded aluminium mesh and used this found metal as the starting point for experimentation. Trent and Johnny designed these pieces as they made them, starting with a mesh substrate cut vaguely in the shape of a chair, and together beat the material with hammers, concrete blocks and tree stumps until it took on a form that they both liked. This beaten geometry was then softened by laminating New Zealand saddle leather to skin the mesh, masking its geometry and softening its idiosyncratic undulations.

Words by Trent Jansen and Johnny Nargoodah.

Makers
Trent Jansen Studio, Johnny Nargoodah, Jarrod Vinen and Edin Fermic.

Supporters
National Gallery of Victoria
Gallery Sally Dan-Cuthbert
Mangkaja Arts Resource Agency
UNSW Art & Design
Australia Council for the Arts

Image credit – Romello Pereira.

RECENT EXHIBITION ~ SUMMER GROUP EXHIBITION

27 NOVEMBER 2020 - 7 FEBRUARY 2021 ~ GALLERY SALLY DAN-CUTHBERT, SYDNEY

On 27 November 2020, Johnny Nargoodah and Trent Jansen launched their latest works in the Ngumu Janka Warnti Collection. This body of work represents a coming together of their disparate knowledge and skill in working with animal pelts.

Johnny Nargoodah is a Nyikina man who has spent much of his life working with leather as a saddler on remote cattle stations, and Trent Jansen is an avant-garde object designer from Thirroul in New South Wales, who regularly experiments with leather and animal pelts in his collectable design work. Ngumu Janka Warnti (2020), the Walmajarri phrase for ‘all made from rubbish’, is their collaborative project experimenting with the combination of these disparate sensibilities. This body of work is designed by Trent and Johnny and both designers have their own lens through which to view the processes and inspirations governing these works:

From Trent’s point of view, this project is an experiment in the generation of hybrid material culture. Material Culture Theory says that the artefacts we create embody the values, ideas, attitudes and assumptions (the culture) of the creator. But what if an artefact is created collaboratively by two people from different cultures? Does this artefact exhibit the cultural values of both authors? If so, how do these cultural values manifest?

From Johnny’s point of view, the project has a few different aspects to it: Making – “we use rubbish, recycled frames, we make chairs and cabinets and use the leather to make it look good, to make it furniture that is usable and looks nice”; recycling – “it is important to reuse old rubbish we find, and the leather makes it special”; history – “the leather gives it a reference to the history of Fitzroy Crossing and station life. Saddlers used to come and repair saddles using leather, making twisted rope out of cowhide. This is what I think about when we are using the leather”; and sensory – “the smell of that leather is so good. It brings back memories, triggers those old memories of walking around the saddle room in Noonkanbah shed. There is a sensory response, that’s important.”

“The collaborative process and experimentation is key to this project. Trent and I work together on this, we both sketch, look at each other’s sketches and from there we mix it up.  I’m really enjoying the skills sharing, learning from each other, we both have a lot of different ideas, we keep coming up with new works, keep experimenting.”

Unlike their Jangarra Armchair, a previous collaboration designed and made in Fitzroy Crossing, Ngumu Janka Warnti was developed in Thirroul on the New South Wales Coal Coast. Johnny and Trent came together four times over a period of 18 months, developing new methods for collaboration that could shape their incongruent knowledge, methods and skills in designing and making into co-authored outcomes. These methods include: ‘Sketching exchange’, a process of back and forth sketch iteration, allowing an idea to evolve with equal input from both creators; and ‘designing by making’, a method of working with materials at full scale, to design an object as it is being made. In this approach the prototype is the sketch and both collaborators work together to carve, construct and/or manipulate material, giving the object three-dimensional form as they design and make simultaneously.

The design of this collection began with a trip to the local scrap metal yard, in a vague search for anything interesting. Johnny and Trent salvaged a selection of discarded aluminium mesh and used this found metal as the starting point for experimentation. Trent and Johnny designed these pieces as they made them, starting with a mesh substrate cut vaguely in the shape of a chair, and together beat the material with hammers, concrete blocks and tree stumps until it took on a form that they both liked. This beaten geometry was then softened by laminating New Zealand saddle leather to skin the mesh, masking its geometry and softening its idiosyncratic undulations.

Where
Gallery Sally Dan-Cuthbert,
20 McLachlan Avenue,
Rushcutters Bay, NSW

Exhibition dates
27 November 2020 – 7 February 2021

Supporters
National Gallery of Victoria
Gallery Sally Dan-Cuthbert
Mangkaja Arts
UNSW Art & Design
Australia Council for the Arts
Western Australian Department of Local Government, Sport and Cultural Industries

This project is assisted by the Australian government through the Australia Council for the Arts, its arts funding and advisory body.⁣⁣⁣⁣⁣⁣⁣⁣⁣⁣⁣⁣⁣⁣⁣

RECENT EXHIBITION ~ HYBRID: OBJECTS FOR FUTURE HOMES

12 SEPTEMBER 2020 - 28 FEBRUARY 2021 ~ POWERHOUSE MUSEUM, SYDNEY

Johnny Nargoodah and Trent Jansen have been collaborating in the design and making of designed objects since Fremantle Art Centre’s ‘In Cahoots’ project, which launched in November 2017. During this period they have operated in the place where their disparate cultures collide, developing work that is born out of cultural exchange – coming to know each other’s lived and material culture through the process of working together and sharing their values, ideas, attitudes and assumptions.

In pivoting from their work on ‘Partu (Skin)’ for Melbourne Design Week 2020, to the Powerhouse Museum Hybrid Commission, Trent Jansen began by asking Johnny Nargoodah about his understanding of climate change, as a key theme in the briefing for this project. From his answer it was clear that this was a term that Johnny had heard before, but it was not a concept that he was familiar with. Johnny’s daily life is governed by his responsibilities as a key patriarch in his community. Johnny is depended upon by many and gives his time generously to those who need it, doing his best to ensure that his nine children and count-less grand-children are well looked after, children from remote outstations surrounding Fitzroy Crossing get to school every day, and artists working in the art center have every opportunity to create and show their work. Understandably climate change is not high on this list of critical, family and community focused priorities.

Trent Jansen did his best to talk Johnny Nargoodah through his understanding of the current scientific consensus surrounding climate change, and Johnny immediately began to draw parallels between this science and phenomena he and his community have begun to observe on Country. Johnny has been noticing changes in the natural order of things on his land, changes in the systems that have governed life on Country for millennia, but Johnny and his community had no clear understanding why these changes were occurring. Climate change seems to offer a logical explanation to many of these troubling changes, and so began Johnny and Trent’s latest collaboration, a project that aims to embody the environmental changes observed by Johnny Nargoodah and his community from the remote Kimberley region of Western Australia, as a result of climate change.

This community are the custodians of law and knowledge, pertaining to the natural order of Country in this region, passed down for count-less generations and supporting life in this place for millennia. This project for the Powerhouse Museum Hybrid Commission hopes to act as a vessel for some of this knowledge, communicating it to audiences outside of Johnny Nargoodah’s community, and once again issuing a warning of the devastation that climate change will continue to inflict, even in our most remote communities, if change does not come quickly and broadly.

Many of the changes that Johnny Nargoodah has noticed around Fitzroy Crossing in the Kimberley region of Western Australia are linked to the Fitzroy River. The river is a site of local significance, with the ‘Warlu Gnari’ song-line running along the river, describing the waterholes that punctuate its flow and the many animals that live in and around the river.

As climate change begins to affect the weather patterns acting on this region, Johnny Nargoodah and his community have noticed that the climate is shifting from a tropical system that brought regular, manageable rainfalls to the region, to one that delivers rain less frequently, but in immense quantities, with longer periods of dry weather in between. According to Martin Prichard of Environs Kimberley, the region used to expect roughly six medium sized rain events each year, but this has shifted to an average of two very large monsoons annually. The region is now experiencing extreme monsoonal rain-fall during the summer months, followed by longer periods of dry weather over winter.

This may not seem like a large problem, but this shift in weather is affecting the Fitzroy River in drastic ways. It is now more common for the river to flood during summer, with people being stranded on communities or in town more frequently. Even more concerning is the affect that these dryer winters are having on the river. Johnny and older community members remember a time when the deep sections of the river would not dry up during the dry season. These sections of the river always brought fresh water to the community, no matter the time of year, and always provided shelter for the many fish species living in the river, including Johnny Nargoodah’s totem – the saw fish. Now the Fitzroy river regularly runs dry, and recently Johnny tragically witnessed saw fish beached on the dry riverbed.

The salinity of the river also seems to be changing. Johnny Nargoodah regularly notices salt crystals on the dry riverbed. According to Glenn A. Harrington of Innovative Groundwater Solutions, when the Fitzroy River is dryer it draws more water from a subterranean aquifer. This aquifer is many times more saline than rainwater run-off, and this may be the cause of an increase in salt content noticed by Johnny Nargoodah in this stretch of the Fitzroy. This growing salinity seems to be attracting new marine animals to Fitzroy Crossing, a town on the Fitzroy River roughly three hundred kilometers from the ocean. Johnny says that bull sharks are now common, as are salt water crocodiles, two more changes that are incongruous with Johnny’s memory of this place.

The design process adopted by Johnny Nargoodah and Trent Jansen began with observations of the physical environment of the Fitzroy River, in an endeavor to understand the material quality, texture, form, tonality etc. of the river. Given the significance of the dry riverbed to the narrative of increasing salinity, they focused on the characteristics of the river when dry or while transitioning to a dry state. As the river begins to dry in sections, the final trickles of water flow across the sandy riverbed, tracing their path. The very last remnants are left to sit in sandy depressions, deepening these indentations and recording, in great ephemeral detail, the final movement of seasonal water flow across this vast riverbed.

It is this organic texture that Johnny Nargoodah and Trent Jansen have chosen to adopt as the prevailing physical characteristic of a drying riverbed, and their conversation, sketch exchange, 3d modeling and material experimentation focused on recreating this textural surface as a symbol of a changing river. Johnny’s observations of dry salt crystals on the undulating riverbed have also become an important motif in the communication of this complex narrative. They have used rough Glen Innes black spinel gem stones as a subtle adornment in sections of the undulating surface to reference the significance of increasing salinity in this important and fragile ecosystem. The final chaise longue is upholstered in leather as an extension of the experimentation developed by Johnny and Trent as part of their Partu (Skin) collaboration, while the side tables are painstakingly crafted from solid walnut.

Exhibition curators
Stephen Todd and Keinton Butler

Where
Powerhouse Museum,
500 Harris Street,
Ultimo, NSW

Exhibition dates
12 September 2020 – 28 February 2021

Supporters
Powerhouse Museum
Gallery Sally Dan-Cuthbert
UNSW Art & Design

Image credit – Zan Wimberley

RECENT EXHIBITION - ROSSANA ORLANDI

29 SEPTEMBER - 10 OCTOBER 2020 ~ MILANO DESIGN CITY, MILANO, ITALY

For Milano Design City, the Pankalangu Wardrobe from the Broached Monsters Collection is exhibited with Galleria Rossana Orlandi in Milano, Italy.

Australia was England’s last great conquest. With colonial possession came the right to imagine, in anticipation of populating the country, what amazing creatures resided there. Fabulous creatures of incredible proportions and improbable anatomy filled the void of knowledge.

Fear of imaginary creatures gained fuel when early British colonists had sustained contact with Indigenous Australians and learned of local folkloric creatures. In Australia’s unforgiving natural environment these monster stories served a purpose, to warn that the wilderness is not benign.

Early monster stories represent a point of cultural confluence for Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians. This is what attracts Trent Jansen to them, as the intersection of indigenous and non-indigenous narrative is a focal point of a design practice that aims to foster a new Australian culture of hybrid stories, informed by both Indigenous Australian and European traditions. Broached Commissions, Australia’s leading narrative driven design studio, has a long standing relationship with Trent Jansen and supported this show as it epitomised a shared interest in how the past informs the present.

Two creatures are represented in Broached MONSTERS: The Hairy Wild Man from Botany Bay and the Pankalangu: Hairy Wild Man from Botany Bay is an English myth formed after Captain Cook reported back to England of his brief experience of the Australian eastern coast, prior to British colonisation in 1788. Just as many convicts thought it was possible to walk from Sydney to China, and died trying, so too many arrived thinking a giant of nine feet tall, with a broad face, deathly eyes and a coat of long, sparse wiry hair was a real creature to be feared.

This Big Foot of the antipodes probably occupied the minds of many early settlers who tried to rest, surrounded by the sounds of animal stirrings in the pitch dark bush, on their first nights spent in the new colony.

Pankalangucomes from Arrernte Country in the Northern Territory of Australia. Trent Jansen was introduced to the story by Baden Williams, an Arrernte elder who assisted Trent in his research on Indigenous Australian mythical creatures. Pankalanguis one of three groups of creatures whom frequent Western Arrernte Country. He is a territorial being that lives in the scrub and is completely camouflaged in the desert and bush. Pankalangumoves with the rain, and is made visible when the water droplets falling over his body are caught by the light, defining his form in a glistening silhouette. Our Hairy Wild Man born from afar and the rain gliding Pankalanguare the two protagonist creatures of this Broached MONSTERS Collection, embraced to make sense of a hugely jarring collision between two cultures.

Words by Lou Weis.

Where
Galleria Rossana Orlandi,
Via Matteo Bandello 14,
Milano, Italy.

Exhibition dates
29 September – 10 October 2020

Supporters
Galleria Rossana Orlandi
UNSW Art & Design
Broached Commissions

Image Credit – Galleria Rossana Orlandi and Giorgia Ferrerorocher.

RECENT EXHIBITION ~ THE GREY ZONE

12 MARCH - 25 SEPTEMBER 2020 ~ ARTBANK, MELBOURNE DESIGN WEEK

The Grey Zone: Collecting and Collaborating in Contemporary Art and Design was an exhibition that blurred the boundaries between Art and Design. In collaboration with Edition Office and Trent Jansen, The Grey Zone drew together artworks from the Artbank collection and a selection of objects and design pieces to refocus how we engage with our everyday world and the items we encounter in it.

As various national collections shift the focus of its acquisition to include design, The Grey Zone was commissioned to challenge the definition of design both as noun and verb, scrambling these preconceptions in order to recalibrate the ways that we assign value to material culture of all kinds.

Kim Bridgland and Aaron Roberts of Edition Office worked with Trent Jansen to curate a collection of ‘designed’ artefacts from pre colonial Indigenous Australian tools, to out-sider vernacular design and high-end functional art. Each designed object was carefully positioned metaphorically and physically within the frame of an artwork from the Artbank collection, creating a dialogue between designed artefact and artwork, and questioning the values, ideas, attitudes and assumptions that manifest in both pieces of material culture.

The exhibition design was based around a set of purpose-crafted armatures that built a structural connection between the selected objects and their corresponding artworks, however, the connection between the 8 loaned objects and the Artbank collection works went much deeper. Each coupling drew on the experience of the curators – Trent Jansen and Edition Office as well as the history and cultural significance of each object. The viewer became an active collaborator too, bringing their own experience to their interpretation of each pairing.

 

Artists and designers
Narelle Autio, Nathan Beard, Stephanie Schrapel, Tim Johnson, Philip Juster, Jim Marwood, Alasdair McLuckie, Pip Ryan, Edition Office, Maree Clarke, Trent Jansen and Johnny Nargoodah, Field Experiments, Charles Wilson, Guy Keulemans, Kyoko Hashimoto and Vicki West

Exhibition curators
Kim Bridgland, Aaron Roberts and Trent Jansen

Where
ArtBank
18-24 Down Street,
Collingwood, VIC

Exhibition dates
12 March – 25 September 2020

Supporters
ArtBank
National Gallery of Victoria
Gallery Sally Dan-Cuthbert
Broached Commissions
Mangkaja Arts
UNSW Art & Design

Image Credit – Ben Hosking

View the The Grey Zone virtual exhibition here

RECENT EXHIBITION ~ PARTU (SKIN)

11 JUNE - 26 JULY 2020 ~ GALLERY SALLY DAN-CUTHBERT, SYDNEY

On 11 June 2020, Johnny Nargoodah and Trent Jansen launched their latest collaboration with Gallery Sally Dan-Cuthbert. This body of work is entitled Partu (Skin) and represents a coming together of their disparate knowledge and skill in working with animal pelts.

Johnny Nargoodah is a Nyikina man who has spent much of his life working with leather as a saddler on remote cattle stations, and Trent Jansen is an avant-garde object designer from Thirroul in New South Wales, who regularly experiments with leather and animal pelts in his collectable design work. Partu (2020), the Walmajarri word for ‘skin’, is their collaborative project experimenting with the combination of these disparate sensibilities. This body of work is designed by Trent and Johnny and both designers have their own lens through which to view the processes and inspirations governing these works:

From Trent’s point of view, this project is an experiment in the generation of hybrid material culture. Material Culture Theory says that the artefacts we create embody the values, ideas, attitudes and assumptions (the culture) of the creator. But what if an artefact is created collaboratively by two people from different cultures? Does this artefact exhibit the cultural values of both authors? If so, how do these cultural values manifest?

From Johnny’s point of view, the project has a few different aspects to it: Making – “we use rubbish, recycled frames, we make chairs and cabinets and use the leather to make it look good, to make it furniture that is usable and looks nice”; recycling – “it is important to reuse old rubbish we find, and the leather makes it special”; history – “the leather gives it a reference to the history of Fitzroy Crossing and station life. Saddlers used to come and repair saddles using leather, making twisted rope out of cowhide. This is what I think about when we are using the leather”; and sensory – “the smell of that leather is so good. It brings back memories, triggers those old memories of walking around the saddle room in Noonkanbah shed. There is a sensory response, that’s important.”

“The collaborative process and experimentation is key to this project. Trent and I work together on this, we both sketch, look at each other’s sketches and from there we mix it up.  I’m really enjoying the skills sharing, learning from each other, we both have a lot of different ideas, we keep coming up with new works, keep experimenting.”

Unlike their Jangarra Armchair, a previous collaboration designed and made in Fitzroy Crossing, Partu was developed in Thirroul on the New South Wales Coal Coast. Johnny and Trent came together four times over a period of 18 months, developing new methods for collaboration that could shape their incongruent knowledge, methods and skills in designing and making into co-authored outcomes. These methods include: ‘Sketching exchange’, a process of back and forth sketch iteration, allowing an idea to evolve with equal input from both creators; and ‘designing by making’, a method of working with materials at full scale, to design an object as it is being made. In this approach the prototype is the sketch and both collaborators work together to carve, construct and/or manipulate material, giving the object three-dimensional form as they design and make simultaneously.

Ngumu Jangka Warnti is the Walmajarri phrase for ‘all made from rubbish’. The design of this collection began with a trip to the local scrap metal yard, in a vague search for anything interesting. Johnny and Trent salvaged a selection of discarded aluminium mesh and used this found metal as the starting point for experimentation. Trent and Johnny designed these pieces as they made them, starting with a mesh substrate cut vaguely in the shape of a chair, and together beat the material with hammers, concrete blocks and tree stumps until it took on a form that they both liked. This beaten geometry was then softened by laminating New Zealand saddle leather to skin the mesh, masking its geometry and softening its idiosyncratic undulations.

Saddle gains its name from the first sketch that Johnny made for this collection, an elongated saddle that led to experiments in stretching supple Scandinavian upholstery leather between geometric timber and steel forms to generate new, complex transitioning forms. Sketch exchanges over an 18-month period eventually yielded an entire collection built on this beautiful capability of leather to stretch between forms and give shape to the space in-between objects.

Words by Trent Jansen and Johnny Nargoodah

Where
Gallery Sally Dan-Cuthbert,
20 McLachlan Avenue,
Rushcutters Bay, NSW

Exhibition dates
11 June – 5 July 2020

Supporters
National Gallery of Victoria
Gallery Sally Dan-Cuthbert
Mangkaja Arts
UNSW Art & Design
Australia Council for the Arts
Western Australian Department of Local Government, Sport and Cultural Industries

This project is assisted by the Australian government through the Australia Council for the Arts, its arts funding and advisory body.⁣⁣⁣⁣⁣⁣⁣⁣⁣⁣⁣⁣⁣⁣⁣

Partu (Skin) exhibited at Gallery Sally Dan-Cuthbert with the photography of Lisa Reihana.

RECENT EXHIBITION ~ AUCKLAND VIRTUAL ART FAIR

30 APRIL - 17 MAY 2020 ~ GALLERY SALLY DAN-CUTHBERT, AUCKLAND VIRTUAL ART FAIR

On 30 April 2020, Johnny Nargoodah and Trent Jansen launched a selection of works from the Ngumu Janka Warnti and Saddle Collections with Gallery Sally Dan-Cuthbert at the Auckland Virtual Art Fair 2o20. These works are part of their collaborative project entitled Partu (Skin) and represents a coming together of their disparate knowledge and skill in working with animal pelts.

Johnny Nargoodah is a Nyikina man who has spent much of his life working with leather as a saddler on remote cattle stations, and Trent Jansen is an avant-garde object designer from Thirroul in New South Wales, who regularly experiments with leather and animal pelts in his collectable design work. Partu (2020), the Walmajarri word for ‘skin’, is their collaborative project experimenting with the combination of these disparate sensibilities. This body of work is designed by Trent and Johnny and both designers have their own lens through which to view the processes and inspirations governing these works:

From Trent’s point of view, this project is an experiment in the generation of hybrid material culture. Material Culture Theory says that the artefacts we create embody the values, ideas, attitudes and assumptions (the culture) of the creator. But what if an artefact is created collaboratively by two people from different cultures? Does this artefact exhibit the cultural values of both authors? If so, how do these cultural values manifest?

From Johnny’s point of view, the project has a few different aspects to it: Making – “we use rubbish, recycled frames, we make chairs and cabinets and use the leather to make it look good, to make it furniture that is usable and looks nice”; recycling – “it is important to reuse old rubbish we find, and the leather makes it special”; history – “the leather gives it a reference to the history of Fitzroy Crossing and station life. Saddlers used to come and repair saddles using leather, making twisted rope out of cowhide. This is what I think about when we are using the leather”; and sensory – “the smell of that leather is so good. It brings back memories, triggers those old memories of walking around the saddle room in Noonkanbah shed. There is a sensory response, that’s important.”

“The collaborative process and experimentation is key to this project. Trent and I work together on this, we both sketch, look at each other’s sketches and from there we mix it up.  I’m really enjoying the skills sharing, learning from each other, we both have a lot of different ideas, we keep coming up with new works, keep experimenting.”

Unlike their Jangarra Armchair, a previous collaboration designed and made in Fitzroy Crossing, Partu was developed in Thirroul on the New South Wales Coal Coast. Johnny and Trent came together four times over a period of 18 months, developing new methods for collaboration that could shape their incongruent knowledge, methods and skills in designing and making into co-authored outcomes. These methods include: ‘Sketching exchange’, a process of back and forth sketch iteration, allowing an idea to evolve with equal input from both creators; and ‘designing by making’, a method of working with materials at full scale, to design an object as it is being made. In this approach the prototype is the sketch and both collaborators work together to carve, construct and/or manipulate material, giving the object three-dimensional form as they design and make simultaneously.

Ngumu Jangka Warnti is the Walmajarri phrase for ‘all made from rubbish’. The design of this collection began with a trip to the local scrap metal yard, in a vague search for anything interesting. Johnny and Trent salvaged a selection of discarded aluminium mesh and used this found metal as the starting point for experimentation. Trent and Johnny designed these pieces as they made them, starting with a mesh substrate cut vaguely in the shape of a chair, and together beat the material with hammers, concrete blocks and tree stumps until it took on a form that they both liked. This beaten geometry was then softened by laminating New Zealand saddle leather to skin the mesh, masking its geometry and softening its idiosyncratic undulations.

Saddle gains its name from the first sketch that Johnny made for this collection, an elongated saddle that led to experiments in stretching supple Scandinavian upholstery leather between geometric timber and steel forms to generate new, complex transitioning forms. Sketch exchanges over an 18-month period eventually yielded an entire collection built on this beautiful capability of leather to stretch between forms and give shape to the space in-between objects.

Words by Trent Jansen and Johnny Nargoodah

Where
Gallery Sally Dan-Cuthbert
Auckland Virtual Art Fair

Exhibition dates
30 April – 17 May 2020

Supporters
Auckland Virtual Art Fair
Gallery Sally Dan-Cuthbert
Mangkaja Arts
UNSW Art & Design
Australia Council for the Arts
Western Australian Department of Local Government, Sport and Cultural Industries

Image Credit – Romello Pereira

This project is assisted by the Australian government through the Australia Council for the Arts, its arts funding and advisory body.⁣⁣⁣⁣⁣⁣⁣⁣⁣⁣⁣⁣⁣⁣⁣

RECENT EXHIBITION ~ PARTU (SKIN)

12 MARCH - 11 APRIL 2020 ~ GALLERY SALLY DAN-CUTHBERT WITH ARC ONE GALLERY, MELBOURNE DESIGN WEEK

On 12 March 2020, Johnny Nargoodah and Trent Jansen launched their latest collaboration with Gallery Sally Dan-Cuthbert and Arc One Gallery as part of the National Gallery of Victoria‘s Melbourne Design Week 2o20. This new body of work is entitled Partu (Skin) and represents a coming together of their disparate knowledge and skill in working with animal pelts.

Johnny Nargoodah is a Nyikina man who has spent much of his life working with leather as a saddler on remote cattle stations, and Trent Jansen is an avant-garde object designer from Thirroul in New South Wales, who regularly experiments with leather and animal pelts in his collectable design work. Partu (2020), the Walmajarri word for ‘skin’, is their collaborative project experimenting with the combination of these disparate sensibilities. This body of work is designed by Trent and Johnny and both designers have their own lens through which to view the processes and inspirations governing these works:

From Trent’s point of view, this project is an experiment in the generation of hybrid material culture. Material Culture Theory says that the artefacts we create embody the values, ideas, attitudes and assumptions (the culture) of the creator. But what if an artefact is created collaboratively by two people from different cultures? Does this artefact exhibit the cultural values of both authors? If so, how do these cultural values manifest?

From Johnny’s point of view, the project has a few different aspects to it: Making – “we use rubbish, recycled frames, we make chairs and cabinets and use the leather to make it look good, to make it furniture that is usable and looks nice”; recycling – “it is important to reuse old rubbish we find, and the leather makes it special”; history – “the leather gives it a reference to the history of Fitzroy Crossing and station life. Saddlers used to come and repair saddles using leather, making twisted rope out of cowhide. This is what I think about when we are using the leather”; and sensory – “the smell of that leather is so good. It brings back memories, triggers those old memories of walking around the saddle room in Noonkanbah shed. There is a sensory response, that’s important.”

“The collaborative process and experimentation is key to this project. Trent and I work together on this, we both sketch, look at each other’s sketches and from there we mix it up.  I’m really enjoying the skills sharing, learning from each other, we both have a lot of different ideas, we keep coming up with new works, keep experimenting.”

Unlike their Jangarra Armchair, a previous collaboration designed and made in Fitzroy Crossing, Partu was developed in Thirroul on the New South Wales Coal Coast. Johnny and Trent came together four times over a period of 18 months, developing new methods for collaboration that could shape their incongruent knowledge, methods and skills in designing and making into co-authored outcomes. These methods include: ‘Sketching exchange’, a process of back and forth sketch iteration, allowing an idea to evolve with equal input from both creators; and ‘designing by making’, a method of working with materials at full scale, to design an object as it is being made. In this approach the prototype is the sketch and both collaborators work together to carve, construct and/or manipulate material, giving the object three-dimensional form as they design and make simultaneously.

Ngumu Jangka Warnti is the Walmajarri phrase for ‘all made from rubbish’. The design of this collection began with a trip to the local scrap metal yard, in a vague search for anything interesting. Johnny and Trent salvaged a selection of discarded aluminium mesh and used this found metal as the starting point for experimentation. Trent and Johnny designed these pieces as they made them, starting with a mesh substrate cut vaguely in the shape of a chair, and together beat the material with hammers, concrete blocks and tree stumps until it took on a form that they both liked. This beaten geometry was then softened by laminating New Zealand saddle leather to skin the mesh, masking its geometry and softening its idiosyncratic undulations.

Saddle gains its name from the first sketch that Johnny made for this collection, an elongated saddle that led to experiments in stretching supple Scandinavian upholstery leather between geometric timber and steel forms to generate new, complex transitioning forms. Sketch exchanges over an 18-month period eventually yielded an entire collection built on this beautiful capability of leather to stretch between forms and give shape to the space in-between objects.

Words by Trent Jansen and Johnny Nargoodah

Where
Arc One Gallery,
45 Flinders Lane,
Melbourne, VIC

Exhibition dates
12 March – 11 April 2020

Supporters
National Gallery of Victoria
Gallery Sally Dan-Cuthbert
Arc One Gallery
Mangkaja Arts
UNSW Art & Design
Australia Council for the Arts
Western Australian Department of Local Government, Sport and Cultural Industries

Image Credit – Tobias Titz and Tom Ross

This project iss assisted by the Australian government through the Australia Council for the Arts, its arts funding and advisory body.⁣⁣⁣⁣⁣⁣⁣⁣⁣⁣⁣⁣⁣⁣⁣