Gathering Space: Ngargee Djeembana

In early 2022, the Australian Centre for Contemporary Art (ACCA) presented the third of their ‘Big Picture’ series; titled “Who’s Afraid of Public Space?”. Artists and designers were invited to consider the hotly contested role of public space within our cities through a variety of different lenses. 

The keynote commission of the exhibition was conceived by N’arweet Carolyn Briggs, a Boon Wurrung senior elder and Sarah Lynn Rees, a Palawa designer. The pair were invited to develop a gathering space for art, performance, and the exchange of ideas. 

In this space, a series of neatly arranged, custom-made stools have been placed across the floor, each highlighting a different set of materials indigenous to Victorian. These include native trees like myrtle beech and silver wattle, stones such as Mount Bolton granite, and materials including kangaroo leather.

The commissioned piece is a comment on how we might begin to connect our public spaces more successfully to the country. Miriam Kelly, the exhibition curator notes “It’s an invitation to think about what if our public spaces were made of local materials?”

This way of thinking can be applied all over Australia, encouraging our public spaces to embody the rich history of Australia’s Indigenous heritage and connection to the country.