Artist: Kent Morris
Year: 2023

Brimbank Aquatic and Wellness Centre

Cultural Reflections - Systems of Sustainability #3 is constructed from a single photograph which has been digitally transformed from the single-point perspective of a camera’s eye to an immersive, kaleidoscopic scenery across the wall. The wallpaper print and framed print feature an interlocking network of native plants and birds in a repeating pattern that speaks of infinity through an encompassing First Nations’ lens. Through this lens viewers are immersed in a deep time philosophy that centres plants, animals, humans, land, sea and sky as all interconnected and interdependent, and acknowledges that we are all part of a continuous universal narrative.

Reinforcing the continuing presence and patterns of Aboriginal history, culture and knowledge in the contemporary Australian landscape, Cultural Reflections - Systems of Sustainability #3 features a delicate pattern of native plants and watchful birds, while interconnecting lines created by the plants reference First Nations linear and geometric designs of the south east. Enveloped in this integrated worldview, viewers will perceive a subtle transition from black and white to colour across the wall. This shift evokes a journey towards the incorporation of Indigenous knowledges and philosophies in ecosystem management and other areas of life in Australia. To rethink and reshape the tenets of existence and see Country not only as a resource, the work suggests that we need a more balanced and culturally connected system in place to provide the possibility of a sustainable future for all.

Many Indigenous creation stories, including those of the Kulin Nation, utilise birds to expresses the daily importance of community connection through shared achievement and the possibilities that each new day brings. They highlight the importance of sharing with and caring for all people in the community, of nurturing the land and of the significance of Country and all its creatures. Our native birds are some of the oldest on the planet and represent spirituality, continuity, adaptation and change, and the shared benefits of working together. They are interwoven into our daily lives through their interaction with the ever changing landscape which we inhabit. They are our ancestors, protectors and messengers.

Indigenous stories about some small birds remind us that while we are all interconnected we each have unique characteristics. They highlight the importance of individuality but caution against competitive behaviour to prove individual worth; community connection and well-being always outweigh individual achievement.

For thousands of years, First Nations knowledge systems incorporated in the design have expressed the importance of kinship, community, connection to Country and the interconnectedness of all life. Maintaining balance and sustainability is at the forefront of this knowledge, as is responsibility and respect.

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