CURRENT EXHIBITION ~ DESIRE X DESIGN

15 MAY - 15 JUNE 2024 ~ USEFUL OBJECTS

Desire x Design is the inaugural exhibition of Simon Maidment’s new collectible design gallery, Useful Objects.

As part of this exhibition, Trent Jansen is exhibiting his 2016 collaboration with Indian ceramicist Abbas Galwani entitled Dropping a Kumbhar Wala Matka, made in Mumbai’s Dharavi. This work pays homage to Ai WeiWei’s controversial and innovative work ~ Dropping a Han Dynasty Urn. By destroying an object that physically embodies two thousand years of Chinese tradition, culture and history, WeiWei openly denounces the conventions that are used to legitimise centuries of indoctrination and malevolent actions, perpetrated by the Chinese establishment.

Dropping a Kumhar Wala Mudka offers a similar critique of the traditions and history that underpin Indian social conventions. In India, the Kumhar Wala (potter) is among the lower castes, meaning that these craftspeople, who make functional objects serving millions of Indians on a daily basis, do not earn the respect that they deserve for their role within Indian society. Kumhar Walas work extremely long hours, making thousands of thrown objects every day, and the remuneration received for their many hours of toil is no where near that of higher, more traditionally educated castes. The Kumhar Walas working in India are some of the most skilful clay throwers in the world, but they are not recognised for their skill and they do not receive the reverence that they deserve.

In this work, Abbas Galwani, a Kumhar Wala living and working in Dharavi, drops a traditional Indian Mudka. With this act, Abbas denounces the cultural structures that restrict his social mobility, impede his ability to gain renown for his unquestionable skill, and hinder his capacity to provide for his family.

If India (The Emerging Giant) is to reach its full potential, the working classes must be afforded a place of pride and equality within Indian society. A rising super-power, built on a foundation of resentment, inequality and exclusivity, will be forever undermined by unrest and discontent.

Only ten of these pieces were made, each coming with three framed black and white photographs of Abbas Galwani dropping his matka.

Where
Useful Objects,
47 Easey Street,
Collingwood, Victoria

Exhibition dates
15 May – 15 June 2024

Image Credit – Neville Sukhia and Useful Objects.

CURRENT EXHIBITION ~ MATERIALITY ... BUT NOT AS WE KNOW IT

2 MARCH - 22 OCTOBER 2024 ~ CANBERRA MUSEUM AND GALLERY

Materiality … but not as we know it opened recently at the Canberra Museum and Gallery. Curated by Virginia Rigney, this exhibition of art, craft and design asks the question – What does the adage ‘truth to materials’ mean today? When does a sculpture become a functional design object?

This exhibition explores the fluidity to these questions in contemporary creative practice. Featured are new and recent works by 10 artists and designers, who each have an association with the Canberra region. They explore what happens when ancient geology becomes a wall treatment – when acid transforms smooth shiny copper into organic dripping furniture – and when rich coloured glass formed into a coolamon holds the cultural knowledge of the flow of water on this Country.

Trent Jansen and his collaborators have seven chairs on display, designed between 2016 – 2023, including: Ngumu Janka Warnti | All Made From Rubbish High Back Chair by Johnny Nargoodah and Trent Jansen – 2020, Kutitji | Shield Chair by Errol Evans and Trent Jansen – 2023, Pankalangu Chair for Broached Commissions – 2017 and Jugaad with Pottery Stool – 2016.

Where
Canberra Museum and Gallery,
Corner London Circuit and City Square,
Canberra City, ACT

Exhibition dates
2 March – 22 October 2024

Supporters
Canberra Museum and Gallery
Maruku Arts
Mangkaja Arts Resource Agency

Image Credit – Cassie Abraham, Jeremy Park, Fiona Susanto, Romello Pereira, Zan Wimberley, Michael Corridore and Neville Sukhia.

RECENT EXHIBITION ~ GALLERIA ROSSANA ORLANDI

16 - 21 APRIL 2024 ~ SALONE DEL MOBILE, MILAN, ITALY

During the Salone Del Mobile 2024, Trent Jansen exhibited his Magistrato Al Sal Nero Cabinet at Galleria Rossana Orlandi in Milan, Italy. First exhibited at the Venice Design Biennial in 2023, this work was designed as part of the Venice Design Biennial Residency, 2022 and produced by Venitian artisans at Vetralia Collectable.

Thanks to the wonderful people at Venice Design Biennial, during his residency Trent met with lagoon scientist Giovanni Cecconi, one of the designers of the controversial MOSE flood barrier that helps with tidal regulation in the Venetian lagoon. Giovanni introduced Trent to the history and science of the lagoon and instigated a research project focused on the impact of rising sea level in the lagoon and the role of salt in Venice’s prosperous history and threatened future.

Historically, Venice is known for its role as a trading port, connecting the centers of Northern Europe, including France and England with Eastern markets in Byzantium and Persia, but one of the earliest commodities to be farmed and traded in the Venetian Lagoon was salt.

Salt works were operating in the Lagoon as early as the first half of the 6th Century, consisting of rudimentary dams constructed from logs and branches, and large evaporation pools where the water would crystallise to form sodium chloride. Salt was used as a sort of currency in these early years of life on the Lagoon (Preziuso et al).

The preindustrial importance of salt cannot be overstated. Salt was the easiest and most reliable way to preserve food, and those who possessed salt were far less impacted by the earth’s natural cycles dictating food procurement. A large catch, for example, could be preserved and used to nourish a community for many months, instead of spoiling within days. Salt was essential to survival (G. Cecconi, personal communication, December 2, 2022).

The Venetians understood this and were known to use military force to maintain their advantage, in 932 and 1578 they destroyed rival salt producing communities Camacchio and Trieste to further their control (Warren, 2015). From the 12th Century Venice actively set about creating a monopoly of this crucial commodity. They began to import salt from the Adriatic and Mediterranean in 1240. In 1281 all Venetian merchants were ordered by the ‘ordo salis’ (the salt rule) to bring home a load of salt when returning to Venice. An administrative body known as the ‘Magistrate Al Sal’ (Magistrate of Salt) was established to manage this monopolisation and soon the Venetians had gained control over so much salt that they were supplying the entire Po Valley, Tuscany, the Puglia coast, Sicily, Sardinia, Crete and Cyprus (Preziuso et al.) – salt became ‘il vero fondamento del nostro stato’ (the true foundation of our state) (Beinart, 2011).

In the 1400s the Venetians built monumental ‘Magazzini del Sale’ (salt warehouses) called ‘Saloni’, with structures strong enough to hold 4500 tons of salt at any one time. They hoarded salt in their vast stores to create shortages and then increased the price to feed demand and maximise profits. By 1590 they were making an 81% mark-up on salt sold inland. Some of these profits were used by the state to build sculpture and architecture, attracting many Renaissance artists to profit from this booming commodity (Warren, 2015). Venice is often introduced as one of the birthplaces of capitalism. The history of salt in this region is a clear demonstration of early capitalist values in action.

Today in Venice, salt plays a very different role. Due to the rising sea-level, the ocean regularly reaches above the limestone foundations used to insulate the city’s brick walls from the sea. These bricks are porous and when they come into contact with the canals, capillary action draws the sea water upward as high as 8 meters inside the bricks and mortar (G. Cecconi, personal communication, December 2, 2022). When the tide drops again and the walls dry out the water evaporates, but it leaves the salt behind, captured within the walls of the city. Within a cubic meter of wall in Venice there is likely to be 70-80kg of salt (Piana, 2021).

When the salt dries it crystallises and expands, resulting in countless tiny explosions inside the ancient bricks and mortar and causing these walls to disintegrate from the inside (G. Cecconi, personal communication, December 2, 2022). Evidence of this can be seen throughout the city, from salt secretions leaking out through the brickwork to crumbling facades disintegrating into the canals and alleyways.

In an ultimate piece of dark irony, it is the uncontrollable acceleration of capitalist practices, beginning in part with salt in Venice, that have contributed substantially to the burning of fossil fuels, to produce and transport energy and products that might satisfy our insatiable taste for consumption. Emissions from these fossil fuels have warmed the globe, begun to melt our ice sheets and glaciers, and caused the water in our oceans to expand. These rising oceans and seas are now flowing into the Venetian lagoon, impregnating the walls of the city with salt – the substance at the foundation of Venetian prosperity now works to undermine the literal foundations of this ancient city, threatening to return it to the salty Lagoon that it rose from centuries ago.

The Magistrato Al Sal Nero Cabinet embodies the historical and contemporary significance of salt on the fate of Venetian civilisations. The cabinet is built on a column-shaped base which seems to be constructed from black salt. Paying homage to the important role of glass production in the Venetian Lagoon, the base is actually constructed from thousands of small glass granules, each one the same size and profile as a grain of salt. These glass granules are black, signifying the corrupt nature of salt monopolisation by consecutive Doges from the 10th – 16th Centuries. The base of the cabinet also appears to be crumbling where it rests on the ground, causing the entire piece to teeter as its foundations appear to falter. This is of course a clear reference to the contemporary affect of salt on Venetian architecture, rupturing the brickwork and undermining the foundations of these ancient buildings.

The top section of the cabinet is constructed from ebonised timber tiles, referencing the archetypal terracotta roof tiles used throughout Venice. These tiles take on a randomised construction and appear to break apart and tumble as the salt column below seems to falter and sway. There are two doors in this top section, hidden by the complexity of the tile composition. When opened, these doors reveal a further ebonised interior, with the column-shaped, salt base rising up inside its walls, like the sea water that soaks upward into the walls of buildings throughout the Venetian Lagoon.

This collectable design work is painstakingly hand-crafted by the talented artisans at Vetralia Collectible, combining the ancient art of hand-wood-carving with an innovative use of granulated glass, to create a contemporary, experimental design work that embodies a story of great significance to the evolution of Venice.

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

Exhibition dates
16 – 21 April 2024

Supporters
Galleria Rossana Orlandi
Vetralia Collectible
Venice Design Biennial
UNSW Art & Design
McArthurGlen Noventa di Piave Designer Outlet

Image Credit – Vetralia Collectible.

AWARD ~ PRODUCT DESIGNER OF THE YEAR

MARCH 2024 ~ VOGUE LIVING VL50 AWARDS

Trent Jansen is included in the VL50 list for 2024 – “This coveted list of local talents has been hand-selected by the Vogue Living team for showcasing distinctive style, out-of-the-box thinking and creative commitment in furthering Australian design not just in our nation but on the global stage. The VL50 is a celebration of the diverse, evolving creative community we have and the incredible value it holds.”

At a black-tie gala hosted by Vogue Living at Sydney Modern, Art Gallery of NSW, Trent was named ‘Product Designer of the Year’ for 2024.

In his speech, Trent acknowlegded the many amazing artists, designers and makers he has collaborated with over his 20-year career and shared this award with them, including: Tanya Singer, Johnny Nargoodah, Errol Evans, Bernadette Hardy, Maree Clark, Vicki West, Guy Keulemans, Angie Abdilla, Chris Nicholson and Lou Weis.

Massive thanks must go to Rebecca, Edwina and the entire Vogue Living crew for their hard work in curating VL50 2024 and orchestrating such an incredible event to announce the winners in each category.

Supporters
Vogue Living
Mobilia

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

Where
Fremantle Arts Centre,
1 Finnerty Street,
Fremantle WA

Exhibition dates
5 May – 23 July 2023

Image Credit – Beck Mansell and Fiona Susanto

RECENT EXHIBITION ~ KURUNPA KUNPU | STRONG SPIRIT

23 MAY - 14 JULY 2023 ~ ARTBANK MELBOURNE

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

Graphic Design – Marcus Piper

Where
Artbank Melbourne,
18/24 Down Street,
Collingwood VIC

Exhibition dates
23 May – 14 July 2023

Image Credit – Fiona Susanto

RECENT EXHIBITION ~ VENICE DESIGN BIENNIAL

19 MAY - 18 JUNE 2023 ~ VENICE, ITALY

Magistrato Al Sal Nero was the result of the Venice Design Biennial Residency 2022 and exhibited as part of the Venice Design Biennial 2023 in Venice, Italy. This work was crafted  by Venitian artisans at Vetralia Collectible and is made from a combination of granulated Murano glass and hand-carved, cirmolo timber.

Historically, Venice is known for its role as a trading port, connecting the centres of Northern Europe, including France and England with Eastern markets in Byzantium and Persia, but one of the earliest commodities to be farmed and traded in the Venetian Lagoon was salt.

Salt works were operating in the Lagoon as early as the first half of the 6th Century, consisting of rudimentary dams constructed from logs and branches, and large evaporation pools where the water would crystallise to form sodium chloride. Salt was used as a sort of currency in these early years of life on the Lagoon (Preziuso et al).

The preindustrial importance of salt cannot be overstated. Salt was the easiest and most reliable way to preserve food, and those who possessed salt were far less impacted by the earth’s natural cycles dictating food procurement. A large catch, for example, could be preserved and used to nourish a community for many months, instead of spoiling within days. Salt was essential to survival (G. Cecconi, personal communication, December 2, 2022).

The Venetians understood this and were known to use military force to maintain their advantage, in 932 and 1578 they destroyed rival salt producing communities Camacchio and Trieste to further their control (Warren, 2015). From the 12th Century Venice actively set about creating a monopoly of this crucial commodity. They began to import salt from the Adriatic and Mediterranean in 1240. In 1281 all Venetian merchants were ordered by the ‘ordo salis’ (the salt rule) to bring home a load of salt when returning to Venice. An administrative body known as the ‘Magistrate Al Sal’ (Magistrate of Salt) was established to manage this monopolisation and soon the Venetians had gained control over so much salt that they were supplying the entire Po Valley, Tuscany, the Puglia coast, Sicily, Sardinia, Crete and Cyprus (Preziuso et al.) – salt became ‘il vero fondamento del nostro stato’ (the true foundation of our state) (Beinart, 2011).

In the 1400s the Venetians built monumental ‘Magazzini del Sale’ (salt warehouses) called ‘Saloni’, with structures strong enough to hold 4500 tons of salt at any one time. They hoarded salt in their vast stores to create shortages and then increased the price to feed the demand and maximise profits. By 1590 they were making an 81% mark-up on salt sold inland. Some of these profits were used by the state to build sculpture and architecture, attracting many Renaissance artists to profit from this booming commodity (Warren, 2015). Venice is often introduced as one of the birthplaces of capitalism. The history of salt in this region is a clear demonstration of early capitalist values in action.

Today in Venice, salt plays a very different role. Due to the rising sea-level, the ocean regularly reaches above the limestone foundations used to insulate the city’s brick walls from the sea. These bricks are porous and when they come into contact with the canals capillary action draws the sea water upward as high as 8 meters inside the bricks and mortar (G. Cecconi, personal communication, December 2, 2022). When the tide drops again and the walls dry out the water evaporates, but it leaves the salt behind, captured within the walls of the city. Within a cubic meter of wall in Venice there is likely to be 70-80kg of salt (Piana, 2021).

When the salt dries it crystallises and expands, resulting in countless tiny explosions inside the ancient bricks and mortar and causing these walls to disintegrate from the inside (G. Cecconi, personal communication, December 2, 2022). Evidence of this can be seen throughout the city, from salt secretions leaking out through the brickwork to crumbling facades disintegrating into the canals and alleyways.

In an ultimate piece of dark irony, it is the uncontrollable acceleration of capitalist practices, beginning in part with salt in Venice, that have contributed substantially to the burning of fossil fuels, to produce and transport energy and products that might satisfy our insatiable taste for consumption. Emissions from these fossil fuels have warmed the globe, begun to melt our ice sheets and glaciers, and caused the water in our oceans to expand. These rising oceans and seas are now flowing into the Venetian lagoon, impregnating the walls of the city with salt – the substance at the foundation of Venetian prosperity now works to undermine the literal foundations of this ancient civilisation, threatening to return it to the salty Lagoon that it rose from centuries ago.

Where
SPARC – Spazio Arte Contemporanea,
Campo Santo Stefano, Venezia.

Exhibition dates
19 May – 18 June 2023

Supporters
Create NSW
University of NSW Art & Design
Noventa Di Piave Designer Outlet

Image Credit – Vetralia Collectible, Giacomo Gandola and Veronika Mutulko

 

VENICE DESIGN BIENNIAL RESIDENCY

DECEMBER 2022 ~ VENICE, ITALY

Trent Jansen was selected from a field of international designers to be the recipient of the 2022 Venice Design Biennial Residency. Trent spent a month in Venice, researching and designing a new body of work with Vetralia and some of the best artisans and makers in Venice, for exhibition at the Venice Design Biennial 2023.

During this period Trent was introduced to expert artisan boat builders, glass blowers, velvet weavers and others, learning about these thriving traditional crafts and considering ways in which these practices might be employed in contemporary design works.

Thanks to the wonderful people at Venice Design Biennial, Trent met with lagoon scientist Giovanni Cecconi, one of the designers of the controversial MOSE flood barriers that help with tidal regulation in the Venetian lagoon. Giovanni introduced Trent to the history and science of the lagoon and instigated a research project focused on the impact of rising sea levels in the lagoon and the role of salt in Venice’s prosperous history and threatened future.

This research will culminate in a collection of design work, embodying the significance of salt in Venice throughout history. These works will be produced by the extremely talented artisans at Vetralia, for exhibition as part of the Venice Design Biennial, in May 2023.

This project was supported by the NSW Government through Create NSW.

Supporters
Venice Design Biennial
Vetralia
Create NSW
UNSW Art & Design

RECENT EXHIBITION ~ THE CHAIR

10 SEPTEMBER - 19 NOVEMBER 2022 ~ CRAFT VICTORIA, MELBOURNE

The Ngumu Janka Warnti (All Made from Rubbish) Chair designed in collaboration with Johnny Nargoodah, and Pankalangu Armchair designed as part of Broached Monsters, are on show as part of ‘The Chair’ at Craft Victoria.

From Johnny’s point of view, the Ngumu Janka Warnti (All Made from Rubbish) Chair 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.”

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?

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.

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 is a designed interpretations of pankalangu – this animal is adorned with scales which camouflage as it moves, but when the light catches these copper scales its form is defined by a glistening silhouette.

Where
Craft Victoria,
Watson Place (off Flinders Lane),
Naarm/Melbourne,
Victoria 3000

Exhibition dates
10 September – 19 November 2022

Supporters
Gallery Sally Dan Cuthbert
Broached Commissions

Image Credit – Michael Corridore and Romello Periera

RECENT EXHIBITION ~ TRANSFORMATIVE REPAIR

2 - 10 JUNE 2022 ~ AUSTRALIAN DESIGN CENTRE, SYDNEY

On 2 June, 2022 the Australian Design Centre hosted 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 was on display at the Australian Design Centre on Williams Street in Sydney. On 9 June, 2022 the works were 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, MELBOURNE

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.