Indigenous design heritage

Before European settlement in the 1830s, the area was inhabited by the Indigenous Waddawarrung people, whose language gave ‘Djillong’ – meaning ‘sea bird over land or cliffs’ – its name.

“There is not a square metre of land that does not have an Aboriginal footprint or an Aboriginal story”
– Uncle David Tournier (dec.), Indigenous Elder

Today, Geelong’s Indigenous heritage is being echoed in new design initiatives, such as the Indigenous Design Charter.

Budj Bim National Heritage Landscape

Budj Bim is the name given by the Gunditjmara people to the now-extinct volcano Mount Eccles. In Gunditjmara language, Budj Bim means High Head. The area is of high cultural significance. Thousands of years prior to European settlement, the Gunditjmara design an aquaculture system which channelled water into low-lying areas, trapping eels and fish in a series of weirs. This innovation provided a year-round food supply, allowing the forager society to evolve into a settled society, with permanent stone dwellings.

Budj Bim Aboriginal Hydraulic Works Engineering Heritage Marking Ceremony

Wurdi Youang

One of the earliest examples of design in the region is Wurdi Youang – a human-designed rock formation that outlines the midsummer and midwinter solstices.

Bunjil Geoglyph

Installed at Wurdi Youang, the geoglyph comprises 1500 tonnes of rock and represents ‘Bunjil‘, an important character in Waddawurrung history.

Remnant Canoe

During the biennial pilgrimage from the You Yangs mountains to the the Barwon River mouth – Mountain to Mouth – water and fire are carried in an ephemeral Canoe. The Canoe is set alight at the journey’s end at Barwon Heads. Internationally renowned artist Benjamin Gilbert was commissioned to create a permanent public sculpture, using material from the burnt Canoe. The result is ‘Remnant Canoe‘ – a permanent symbol of the meeting of the ephemeral and the long-lasting.

Remnant Canoe

International Indigenous Design Charter

Visual and communication designers often find accurately representing Indigenous imagery in culturally appropriate ways a difficult task.

Deakin University researchers are collaborating with international colleagues to develop the worlds first international Indigenous design charter.  A new charter being developed by Deakin University researchers Dr Russell Kennedy and Dr Meghan Kelly from Deakin’s School of Communication and Creative Arts (SCCA), Professor Brian Martin, Deputy Director of Deakin’s Institute of Koorie Education (IKE) and students from IKE seeks to provide some guidelines for the industry.  The Charter’s development follows the recent creation of the “Australian Indigenous Design Charter: Communication Design” by Dr Kennedy, Dr Kelly and IKE, in collaboration with Indigenous Architecture and Design Victoria, and the Design Institute of Australia.

“Designers want to be respectful; they don’t want to be inappropriate or offend Indigenous people. The International Indigenous Design Charter will help them to step through the process from brief to final product in an ethical and appropriate way. They can perpetuate existing stereotypes and clichés or show new ways forward”
– Dr Russell Kennedy, Deakin University

Both best practice documents are products of Deakin University’s research cluster – Visible Steps: Indigenous Design Alliance.

 

Image featured in header is attributed to Glenda Nicholls, who designed the piece for Visible Steps

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