CURRENT 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’, is 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 – 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

CURRENT 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, is 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 has 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.⁣⁣⁣⁣⁣⁣⁣⁣⁣⁣⁣⁣⁣⁣⁣

RECENT EXHIBITION ~ POROSITY KABARI

18 OCTOBER - 1 DECEMBER 2019 ~ HAWKESBURY REGIONAL GALLERY, WINDSOR

On 18 October 2019 Hawkesbury Regional Gallery will open the Porosity Kabari exhibition, with works from Ishan Khosla, Richard Goodwin and I, designed and made in Mumbai’s Chor Bazaar and Dharavi. This is the last time Porosity Kabari will be shown before we begin planning for Porosity Kabari II, so please head along and see the show.

I am interested in the Australian philosophy of make do – to do your best with what you have. Jugaad is the Indian make do, with a slight twist. Jugaad is doing just enough with what you have, and it is also figuring it out as you go ~ improvising, rather than planning the direction forward. You can see this philosophy in action everywhere in India: From the way that people cross the street ~ stepping off the footpath and meandering through the traffic in whichever direction provides a free path; to high-rise construction ~ steel reinforcement protrudes from half built skyscrapers all over this country. It seems that these projects will be finished when there is the time and/or money to do so.

For me, the Chor Bazaar and Porosity Kabari are all about jugaad, and this has made me a little nervous. I am used to researching projects thoroughly and working through production processes in a very controlled manner, but with the design and production for Porosity Kabari happening in just three weeks, who has time for planning or control. Most days during this project we would head into the bazaar or Dharavi and observe the makers who work in these hubs of industry. We observed and then we reacted, generating ideas by improvising forms based on those that were possible, using the techniques and/or materials that we saw. We also improvised our way through the making process, as options, problems or questions arose, we suggested the best immediate solution that came to mind.

Where
Hawkesbury Regional Gallery,
300 George Street,
Windsor, NSW

Exhibition dates
18 October – 1 December 2019

Supporters
Hawkesbury Regional Gallery
UNSW Art & Design
Columbia University – Studio X
Parsons Mumbai

Image Credit – Neville Sukhia

RECENT EXHIBITION ~ GALLERY SALLY DAN-CUTHBERT

12 - 15 SEPTEMBER 2019 ~ SYDNEY CONTEMPORARY, CARRIAGE WORKS, SYDNEY

Gallery Sally Dan-Cuthbert presents the latest collaboration between Johnny Nargoodah and I at Sydney Contemporary, Carriage Works, Sydney.

This work is collaborative, so I can only provide my point of view on the process and inspiration governing the work.

From my point of view, this project is an experiment in the generation of hybrid material culture. Material Culture Theory says that the artefacts we make embody the values, ideas, attitudes and assumptions (the culture) of the maker and designer. But what if an artefact is made and/or designed 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?

I am also interested in experimenting with and ultimately inventing new methods for ethical, symmetrical cross-cultural collaboration. Johnny and I have worked together on two projects before, and we have tried many different ways of working together, always endeavouring to ensure that the process by which we collaborate generates an outcomes that is symmetrical in its co-authorship. In an endeavour to evenly contribute to our projects we experiment with methods including ‘sketch exchange’ and ‘designing by making’.

From a technical and formal perspective, I am interested in idiosyncrasy, and love the unpredictable geometry that comes from ramming and crumpling a material like metal. In this chair, the geometry of the crumple is softened through the application of leather. Leather has been formative in the working lives of both Johnny and I: Johnny worked as a cattle station saddler in the Kimberley region, using traditional techniques to form leather; on the other-hand, I have experimented broadly with animal pelts of many kinds. Untitled is taking shape through experimentation with leather forming processes across the incongruent knowledge and skill in leather working held by Johnny and I, using a combination of traditional, industrial and highly unorthodox methods, in the pursuit of new practices in this medium.

Also on show with Gallery Sally Dan-Cuthbert during Sydney Contemporary are the Sign Stool Limited Edition (2004) and Jugaad with Car Parts (2016).

Where
Gallery Sally Dan-Cuthbert,
Booth E11, Sydney Contemporary,
Carriageworks, Sydney.

Exhibition Dates
12 – 15 September 2019

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

Image credit – Abraham Markos

RECENT EXHIBITION ~ INTRODUCING GALLERY SALLY DAN-CUTHBERT

8 AUGUST - 22 SEPTEMBER 2019 ~ GALLERY SALLY DAN-CUTHBERT, SYDNEY

I am excited that Gallery Sally Dan-Cuthbert will be representing me in Sydney. Opening in August 2019, Gallery Sally Dan-Cuthbert will be a unique collection of limited edition and one-off design pieces from Australia and New Zealand, exhibited alongside artworks by some of the country’s leading visual artists.

Sally Dan-Cuthbert is a Sydney art consultant with a prominent list of artists and private and corporate collectors as her clients. After more than 30 years working in fine arts, Sally has shifted her focus to include functional art and contemporary design.

Gallery Sally Dan-Cuthbert will curate and exhibit solo and mixed shows by emerging, mid-career and senior artists and designers, and demonstrate the importance of living with art and design together.

The gallery’s first exhibition – which opens on the 8th August 2019 – is a group showing of 20 artists and will include our Collision Collection, designed in collaboration with Johnny Nargoodah from Mangkaja Arts in Fitzroy Crossing for Fremantle Arts Centre’s In Cahoots. We will be showing alongside designers including Michael Gittings, Guy Keulemans, Kyo Hashimoto and Darren Fry, and visual artists such as Marion Borgelt, Jacky Redgate, Sally Smart and Makiko Ruyijin.

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

Exhibition Dates
9 August – 22 September 2019

Supporters
Gallery Sally Dan-Cuthbert
Mangkaja Arts
Fremantle Arts Centre
UNSW Art & Design

Image credit – Gallery Sally Dan-Cuthbert and Fremantle Arts Centre

ACQUISITION ~ JANGARRA ARMCHAIR

JULY 2019 ~ NATIONAL GALLERY OF VICTORIA

The 1st edition of the Jangarra Armchair for Fremantle Arts Centre 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 Lou Weis and Broached Commissions for including this work in the Design Storytellers exhibition at the NGV in 2018.

“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, collaborator from Mangkaja Arts in Fitzroy Crossing.

The Jangarra Armchair was designed by Rita Minga, Johnny Nargoodah, Trent Jansen, and Wes Maselli, and made 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.

Rita 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.”

Makers
Gene Tighe, Elsie Dickens, Duane Shaw, Illiam Nargoodah, Mayarn Lawford, Eva Nargoodah and Yangkarni Penny K-Lyons.

Supporters
National Gallery of Victoria
Broached Commissions
Mangkaja Arts
Fremantle Arts Centre
UNSW Art & Design
Australia Council for the Arts

Image credits – Fremantle Arts Centre

ACQUISITION ~ BRIGGS FAMILY TEA SERVICE

JULY 2019 ~ NATIONAL GALLERY OF VICTORIA

The 5th (and final) edition of the Briggs Family Tea Service for Broached Commissions 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 Lou Weis and Broached Commissions for including this work in the Design Storytellers exhibition at the NGV in 2018.

The Briggs Family Tea Service aims to represent a family that was forged and defined by the turbulent nature of Van Diemens Land during the early years of colonisation. This family depicts a microcosm of the many varied aspects of the colonial and Aboriginal relationships that were being forced and forged throughout Australia during this period of our history.

A tea-pot and sugar bowl represent the parents, George Briggs of Dunstable in Bedfordshire and Woretermoeteyenner of the Pairrebeenne people of North East Van Diemen’s Land. The physical characteristics of these two objects are defined by the hybrid life that Briggs and Woretermoeteyenner were forced to adopt in order to survive the cultural collision that affected Van Diemen’s Land in the early days of a new British colony.

Makers
Rod Bamford, Vicki West and Oliver Smith.

Supporters
National Gallery of Victoria
Broached Commissions
UNSW Art & Design
Australia Council for the Arts

Image credits – Scotty Cameron