Exploring Indigenous Design in Greenland and the Nordics

Deakin students and academic staff from the Institute of Koorie Education are soon to embark on a long journey north to Denmark, Sweden and Greenland to share in a discussion around the future of Indigenous Design. Deakin’s Institute of Koorie Education promotes access and equity for Indigenous Australians through incorporating Koorie cultural knowledge and perspectives into the curriculum.

The group – which will also include academic staff from Deakin’s Visual Communication Design program – will spend time in each country and take part in the ‘Was.Is.Always: South to North’ workshops. The workshops will discuss issues surrounding the use of Indigenous knowledge in design practice, and consider the meaning and impact of the recently launched Australian Indigenous Design Charter.  Through this process there will be opportunities to showcase examples of Indigenous design from each nation, and develop longer term professional and research networks among participants.

Professor Brian Martin (Muruwari, Bundjalung, Kamilaroi), Program Leader and Deputy Director of Deakin’s Institute for Koorie Education, said of the Charter and program, ‘The Australian Indigenous Design Charter is not only about best practice in working with Indigenous images, as it also posits a framework to give Indigenous voice with political integrity.

‘Image making in Indigenous culture is paramount to relaying our memories of the past into the present which has been practice throughout millennia,’ Prof. Martin continued. ‘This performative action of ritual is the premise of our cultures and this Study Tour program continue this relational practice by enabling Indigenous Australians to lead in concert with Deakin University, protocols for the international design space.’

The outcome of the workshops will be jointly presented at next year’s World Design Summit in Montreal, and will form the basis of a wider discussion around the development of an international Indigenous design charter.

A mock design of the Australian Indigenous Design Charter

A mock-up of the Australian Indigenous Design Charter

While there is great excitement about visiting Denmark and Sweden, the group is particularly thrilled to be travelling to Greenland to experience the Greenlandic climate and culture and meet prominent designers, such as Liss Stender, Louise Lynge Hansen and Jeanette Holding, among many other talented people attending the workshop.

The workshop will be hosted by Deakin’s partner, the University of Greenland (Ilisimatusarfik) and will be formally opened by Australian Ambassador to Denmark, Norway and Iceland, Mr Damien Miller. Amb. Miller is Australia’s first Indigenous head of an overseas mission, and is playing a fundamental role in helping drive DFAT’s Indigenous People’s Strategy. Beyond his great advocacy and support of this program, the Ambassador is also mentoring Deakin Indigenous students who are currently on a scholarship program at University of Copenhagen.

‘The scholarship program and design forums are great ideas that help us further the DFAT Indigenous People’s Strategy,’ Ambassador Miller said. ‘They are perfect examples of what can be achieved when the Australian Government works with creative partners.’

While in Copenhagen, the group will collaborate on a one-day workshop with Copenhagen School of Design and Technology (a popular exchange destination for Deakin’s Architecture and Visual Communication Design students) and Greenland House (a cultural and education hub for all things Greenland). In between time, the group will visit Sweden; meet with Sami designers, such as Karine Kimo Pedersen; visit museums and art galleries; taste-test Danish pastries; and try their hand at dogsledding, among many other experiences.

You can read more about the wonderful Australian Indigenous Design Charter on the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) blog and see Damien Miller (the Australian Ambassador to Denmark) explaining the charter below.

To follow their travels, head to the Deakin Abroad Facebook and Instagram pages.
Questions regarding the program can be directed to Dr Russell Kennedy at [email protected]
Sincere thanks goes to the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade’s Cultural Diplomacy Grant Program for supporting this important initiative.
The Was.Is.Always: South to North workshops have been officially endorsed by Ico-D, the International Council of Design.

Written by Ursula Lorentzen. Ursula is the Deakin University International Manager for Europe.

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