The range of activities and events organised by our RAP Committee acknowledged and highlighted this years’ theme ‘Always was. Always will be.’ and provided the opportunity for all our staff to learn more about the extensive histories, cultures and stories of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples resulting in robust discussions across our studios.
This year we welcomed a range of speakers and guests to our Brisbane and Sydney Studios to spend time with our staff and engage in opportunities to share their personal and work stories, experiences and knowledge. We thank all of our guests for their time and the thought-provoking and motivating stories that they shared with us.
Here’s a snapshot of the week across our Studios
Shannon Foster, a Sydney based D’harawal Saltwater Knowledge Keeper and artist attended Conrad Gargett’s new Sydney studio at Jones Bay Wharf to perform a smoking ceremony as part of NAIDOC week celebrations. The smoking ceremony is an ancient custom among Indigenous Australians in which native plants are burnt to produce smoke and acknowledge the ancestors and pay respect to the land, waters and sea of country. The herbal smoke is believed to have the ability to ward off bad spirits whilst also possessing healing and cleansing properties. Conrad Gargett would like to thank Shannon for allowing the studio to be part of this ancient ceremony and for bestowing the knowledge of First Nation’s people upon us.
In our Brisbane Studio we were proud to host John Paul Janke (Co-Owner & Communications Director, Rork Projects, Co-Chair of the National NAIDOC Committee, Co-Host of The Point on SBS/NITV and Deputy Chair of Indigenous Reference Group at the National Museum of Australia) who gave an inspiring presentation about his experiences growing up as an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander in North Queensland, the history of NAIDOC week, and sharing his personal influences and his hopes for the future.
We also welcomed Judy Watson (Australian Waanyi multi-media artist) to our Brisbane Studio who shared the story behind her commission for Queensland Ballet and the influences from her Aboriginal heritage on her artwork. This was a truly amazing opportunity to learn about Judy’s processes as an artist and how she has successfully integrated her heritage with her work.
In our Sydney studio we learnt how as Architects and designers we can integrate Indigenous knowledge and cultures into our design thinking and outcomes. Christian Hampson (Co-founder & CEO of Yerrabingin) presented on the topic ‘indigenous design solutions’ challenging us to re-think our roles as Architects and designers and sharing the wonderful work undertaken by Yerrabingin. Daniele Hromek (Lecturer at QUT) explored in her presentation how Indigenous perspectives can be imbedded in practice and the importance of understanding Country as a key element of the site.
Conrad Gargett also held our inaugural NAIDOC Week Artwork Competition inviting all staff and their family members to develop their own personal artwork interpretation of the theme ‘Always was. Always will be.’ We received some wonderful and interesting entries and we can’t wait until next year to grow this competition further.