Indigenous communities around the world have been living with widespread cultural and environmental change for centuries, their practices continuing, adapting or becoming dormant in response. Some are now being ‘discovered’ anew.
This conversation invites contemporary First Nations designers from two collectives – Barangga and Parramatta Weaving Garden Collective – to share ‘new to some’ perspectives on what meeting the challenges of contemporary design and practice looks like when you are connected to an enduring holistic culture.
Barangga is a gathering of ‘design mob’ that has grown into an extensive public program; Parramatta Weaving Garden Collective is a formal group of artists, supported by Parramatta Artist Studios, who will establish a cross-community weaving garden on the roof of Powerhouse Parramatta.
Nicole Monks is a member of Barangga and an award-winning designer and artist of Yamaji Wajarri, Dutch and English heritage living and working on Worimi and Awabakal Country (Newcastle). Working across multiple disciplines (furniture, objects, textiles, video, installation, performance), Monks' work reflects First Nations philosophies of sustainability, innovation and collaboration. Monks is the founder of design practice blackandwhite creative and public art company mili mili.
Leanne Tobin is a member of Barangga and a multidisciplinary artist of Buruberong, Wumali, Irish and English heritage. Tobin works with groups and institutions to create richly layered place-based collaborative art and large-scale urban design works. Her art practice centres open and honest dialogue about the past and models a nurturing approach to Country anchored in respect for, in her words, ‘the Old People and their legacy’.
Dr Virginia Keft is a member of Parramatta Weaving Garden Collective and an award-winning researcher and multidisciplinary artist of Muruwarri heritage. Keft's wide-ranging practice (weaving, painting, drawing, sculpture) celebrates connections to place, community and Country. Her work delivers powerful statements on the resilience of tradition, the persistence of cultural memory and the strength of First Nations identity. Keft brings an open and collaborative approach to her arts and cultural practice.
Paris Taia is a member of Parramatta Weaving Garden Collective and a horticulturalist and artist of Cook Island, Samoan and European heritage. Taia's use of plants responds to stories of seed migration, cultural plant uses and an understanding of the environmental conditions needed for species to thrive. Her material garden practice is informed by horticultural investigations and Pacific Islands flora and building materials which act as entry points for exploration into familial histories.
Beau James, First Nations associate director at Powerhouse is from the Mununjali clan of the Yugambeh Nation from South East Queensland with links to Stradbroke Island. James is an experienced manager and First Nations programmer who has worked with Arts Law Centre of Australia and the Australian National Maritime Museum. Most recently, they were the head of First Nations programming with the Sydney Opera House.
On Gadigal land
Ace Hotel Sydney
47–53 Wentworth Ave
Sydney NSW 2000
Free, bookings required
21 September 2023