Designing
Sovereign
Relationships

We pay thanks to and respectfully acknowledge the sovereignty of the Wurundjuri and Boonwurrung peoples of the eastern Kulin on whose land RMIT sits and we live and learn.

The Wiradjuri studio visits and cultural activities featured on this website occurred on Wiradjuri Country and off-Country with the authority of Elders from Wiradjuri and eastern Kulin Nations.

Wiradjuri guest responding to student work

The site invites you into some of the key moments from our Communication Design studio at RMIT.

The studio has been running since 2015 and has changed significantly in the past three years. Each semester we have developed pedagogic frameworks, which support non-Indigenous Design students, as Designers and as individuals, into understanding their relationship with Indigenous sovereignty. Students and staff have all learned from each other and challenged ourselves in many ways — some of these moments are presented to you here.

Students in dialogue with Wiradjuri guests

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Wiradjuri in Melbourne events held in 2016 and 2017 became an opportunity, for us as educators and our students, to respond to the multiple sovereign conducts occurring between Wiradjuri and eastern Kulin.

Both of these events allowed students to consider their own sovereignty in relation to Indigenous sovereignty and to reset their relationship to place. Students and staff have all learned from each other and we challenged ourselves in many ways — some of these moments are captured below.

Wiradjuri in Melbourne 2017

Wiradjuri Event in Melbourne 2017
Wiradjuri Event in Melbourne 2017
Wiradjuri Event in Melbourne 2017
Wiradjuri Event in Melbourne 2017
Wiradjuri Event in Melbourne 2017
Wiradjuri Event in Melbourne 2017
Student
Work Samples

Wiradjuri in Melbourne 2016

Wiradjuri Event in Melbourne 2016
Wiradjuri Event in Melbourne 2016
Wiradjuri Event in Melbourne 2016
Wiradjuri Event in Melbourne 2016
Wiradjuri Event in Melbourne 2016
Wiradjuri Event in Melbourne 2016
Student
Work Samples

Sovereign Weaving Treaty 2016

Sovereign Weaving Treaty Event 2016
Sovereign Weaving Treaty Event 2016
Sovereign Weaving Treaty Event 2016
Sovereign Weaving Treaty Event 2016
Sovereign Weaving Treaty Event 2016
Sovereign Weaving Treaty Event 2016
SWT
visual identity

Studio Knowledge Objects

The students were asked to document aspects of the studio as a way to capture key learning moments, including their feelings, thoughts and confusions. This is a Studio Knowledge Object (SKO).

This is a shareable artifact designed to be a resource for future students to learn how to become a designer in relation to Indigenous sovereigns.

A significant cornerstone of our course was a direct engagement with Indigenous guests who generously gave talks, feedback, tours, ran weaving workshops and participated in many class activities.

The simple act of meeting and having a conversation with Indigenous guests catalyzed invaluable, enlivened moments of resonance for students.

Guests in the studio

Over the three years many Wiradjuri Nation citizens shaped and participated in this studio, providing guidance and building relationships, through talking, sharing knowledge and connecting.

  • Aunty Lorraine Tye, Wiradjuri Elder and master weaver and Linda Elliot, an artist and curator of Wagga Wagga Art Gallery, taught students weaving and its importance for building relationships and strengthening connections.
  • Rob Henderson, a prominent Brisbane based artist and Hannah Donnelly, a writer, artist, DJ and creator of Sovereign Trax, shared their art and media practices.

Bunjilaka

We visited the Bunjilaka Aboriginal Cultural Center, Melbourne Museum. First Peoples Yulendj Group of Elders and Victorian Aboriginal Community share their knowledge, stories, culture and images. This is the opportunity to learn more about Indigenous ways of being and design knowledge that exists (and has always existed) all around us.

ACCA Sovereignty

Our visit to the Sovereignty exhibition at the Australian Center for the Contemporary Arts (ACCA) brought us closer to discussions of Indigenous sovereignty as expressed through contemporary art of First Nation peoples of Southeast Australia.

Contact Us

For more information please email: Associate Professor Yoko Akama

Thank you

Professor Mark McMillan (Deputy Pro Vice-Chancellor of Indigenous Engagement), Aunty Lorraine Tye, Peter West (Lecturer, Bundyi Girri Working Group and PhD Candidate), Associate Professor Yoko Akama (School of Design), all of our guests, project teams and support from

RMIT University University of Melbourne National Indigenous Research and Knowledge Network