In a stunning new exhibition at the University of Sydney’s Tin Sheds Gallery, Ochre, Spinifex & Foil (OSF) investigates three materials embedded in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander history and culture, and unlocks their science and creative potential in art, architecture and manufacturing.
The materials and ideas explored are part of ongoing university and industry applied research, revealed for the first time in the Sydney exhibition.
Interrogating ochre, spinifex and foil, the exhibition presents new pathways in design knowledge arising from the two-way exchange of Indigenous and non-Indigenous science, and provides greater understanding of the innovative potential of these materials in Australian industry and practice.
The University of Sydney’s Professor Michael Tawa from the Faculty of Architecture, Design and Planning said: “Ochre and spinifex are in abundance across this country and have been an integral part of Indigenous culture for thousands of years.
“Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander culture evidences innate, place-based design intelligence and capacities for adaptation and innovation. In this exhibition, traditional uses of ochre and spinifex, and traditional practices of dressing and shelter responding to regional conditions and climates are placed side by side with current scientific research and understanding.
There is much we can learn from Indigenous history and knowledge for the future of architecture and the built environment. By looking closely at the traditions of Indigenous culture we can adapt these long-standing practices and knowledge as we look forward to develop novel solutions to contemporary problems in conservation, material technology and dwellings.
In the heart of the gallery, visitors move between the spinifex and foil exhibits to a spectacular tableau of traditional Warmun ochres on-loan from the remote East Kimberley region of Western Australia.
Each exhibit explores the untapped potential of these materials: ochre in cultural conservation; spinifex as a renewable biomaterial and substitute for fossil fuel polymers and toxic glues; and foil in energy-efficient building construction.
OSF exhibition curator and a durability research architect, Gina Levenspiel, said: “I think that our knowledge of some materials lags behind the urgent demands of our time, our growing ecological footprint and the protection of cultural intellectual property and resources.
“The materials that are explored in this exhibition were chosen for their design quality, for their capacity to contest incorrect or outdated notions of cultural materials, and for their ability to indicate new directions in design.
“The exhibition also illustrates new knowledge that has evolved in Australian design over the last decade, raising important questions related to authenticity, preservation, cultural capital and sustainability,” she said.
As visitors move through the three displays, the exhibition also raises issues around the ethical exchange of scientific and cultural knowledge between Indigenous and non-Indigenous people in the transmission of traditional knowledge; the protection of cultural intellectual property in the commercialisation of spinifex; and the ongoing fabrication of energy-efficient buildings.
Ochre, Spinifex & Foil is presented by the University of Sydney’s Faculty of Architecture, Design and Planning in association with Tin Sheds Gallery in support of the University’s 2015 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Integrated Strategy Wingara Mura-Bunga Barrabugu, Thinking path to make tomorrow.
"As a gay man watching the play’s ending, I felt I’d seen this story too many times to feel part of its investments in the future," writes Dr Huw Griffiths.
Are foreign investors forcing Aussies out of the property market? Will building more houses bring prices down? Does building more roads really reduce traffic congestion? These questions and more will be tackled at the University of Sydney’s second Festival of Urbanism from 1 - 10 September.
Leading contemporary artists from the radical Imperial Slacks artist collective of the late 1990s have reunited in a new exhibition jointly presented by Sydney College of the Arts (SCA) and Campbelltown Arts Centre.
Expressions of interest have opened for a $100,000 Writer in Residence Fellowship to join the fight against obesity, diabetes and cardiovascular disease.
Pearl Lee has won the biology category of the 2015 Dance your PhD competition with an interpretive dance on tropoelastin.
A new pilot program pairing Occupational Therapy students from the University of Sydney with kindergarteners from western Sydney public schools has ended its first year with breakthrough results.
Over 160 students at Sydney College of the Arts (SCA) are counting down to their biggest exhibition yet as they put finishing touches on artworks for the 2015 Undergraduate Degree Show, which officially opens on Tuesday 17 November.
Jeremiah Hamilton made white clients do his bidding. He bought insurance policies on ships he purposely destroyed. And in 1875, he died the richest black American, writes Professor Shane White.
Since 1998 the Sydney Peace Prize has been recognising peace builders in both Australia and overseas. Now, an artist is joining the winners circle, reflects David Hirsch.
Drawing on its historic ties with the University of Sydney, the Seymour Centre will launch the Great Ideas Performance Series, a program that marries captivating performances with academic insights.