Unvanished is a new artwork from acclaimed Barkindji artist Kent Morris and the first collaborative 3D work extrapolated from his photo based digital practice. The multi-sensory sculptural artwork will be on display at Federation Square for two weeks from 27 May to coincide with the commencement of Reconciliation Week. Kent returns to 3KND Big Brekkie to talk about his collaboration with James Henry
The Torch won last year in the Aboriginal Melbourne – Kommargee Ketherba award 2021. Now in its 20th year, the Melbourne Awards are the City of Melbourne’s highest accolade, celebrating the inspirational Melburnians who dedicate their time and energy to making this city a world leader. The Aboriginal Melbourne – Kommargee Ketherba award, sponsored by Sofitel, recognises projects and initiatives that have an impact on and celebrate the lives of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community in Melbourne. Kommargee Ketherba means ‘rise up together’ in the Boon Wurrung language.
The cross-cultural collaboration behind Unvanished is as much an act of reconciliation as the artwork itself. His collaborators include multidisciplinary sound designer James Henry, who is Jimmy Little’s grandson, and the creative team at Studio John Fish.
The visually stunning large-scale artwork (6 metres wide and 4 meters tall) features the sculpture surrounded by a beautifully lit pool that aims to bring people together in a moment of reflection. Along with the three faces of time – past, present and future; the sculpture is crowned with three oversized cockatoos, paying homage to the significance of Australian native birds in indigenous culture and story as ancestors, protectors and messengers.
“The interaction of native birds with the built environment reflects resilience, adaption, continuity and change,” said Morris. “As a community, we must continually strive to share our stories and experiences and promote change so that we can more fully understand, respect and incorporate First Nations knowledges, philosophies and experiences into our everyday lives.”
James Henry’s soundscape provides a constant heartbeat throughout the artwork that represents the continuation of culture, knowledge and identity. The soundscape will deepen a sense of narrative in the artwork and is tightly synchronised to Studio John Fish’s dynamic lighting design.
A final collaboration with immersive tech studio Phoria will incorporate an Augmented Reality filter so people can use their devices to explore the artwork in digital ways. This AR will add visual layers that allow visitors to create their own content and share their experience of the artwork via social media.
Kristian Laemmle-Ruff, co-director of Studio John Fish, acknowledged the extraordinary opportunity for his team of non-indigenous creatives to work alongside acclaimed indigenous artists such as Kent Morris and James Henry.
“By working together with Kent and James we wanted to create a multi-sensory work that will connect people through an inspiring and wholistic artistic experience. After its display at Federation Square, the artwork is looking for a permanent home," said Laemmle-Ruff.
In the spirit of this year's National Reconciliation Week theme, 'Be Brave. Make Change' the artwork invites us to work together and reshape our way of thinking and our relationship to the world from a First Nations perspective.
“Collaborating with a diverse array of creative specialists over a wide range of technologies has given me the opportunity to expand my art practice and broaden its message to a wider audience,” said Morris.
Unvanished will be opened at Federation Square on 27 May at a special event featuring Shauntai Batzke performing Deborah Cheetham’s musical Acknowledgement of Country, Long Time Living Here; Guest speakers include Kimberley Moulton (Museums Victoria), Kent Morris and a welcome performance from Wurundjeri women’s dance group, Djirri Djirri.
Unvanished will be on display 24 hours a day from 27 May to 5 June.