The collaboration between Robert Gordon and Juluwarlu Art Group (who are based in the north-western part of Western Australia’s Pilbara region) has been years in the making.
Robert Gordon creative director Kate Gordon says the Yindjibarndi artist collective first reached out to the brand back in 2021. Since then, the two teams have been working together behind the scenes on a collection filled with stories of Country and culture that was ‘born some 50,000 years ago’!
The resulting range features artworks by Nana Jane Cheedy that are equal parts beautiful and educational. She’s a linguist, teacher and artist, who was chosen to represent the 35 artists from the Juluwarlu Art Group, under the guidance of CEO and Elder Lorraine Coppin.
‘As an artist, I especially like to do original artworks about the thaarga ngarli (foods) and jarmi (bush medicines) that are found on Yindjibarndi Country,’ Nana Jane Cheedy says. ‘By drawing the plants and the animals, I can talk about how our old people traditionally used them and teach the young people how to continue to use them.’
In order to reflect the textures of the original yarranga marni boards she created – by scratching and carving onto layers of plaster and gesso – Robert Gordon utilised an ‘industrial sand blasting technique’ usually reserved for logo printing. It meant tracings had to be made of each drawing, before the machine could translate it into etchings on the ceramics, but Kate says it’s helped the pieces feel more ‘alive’.
‘[The collection] is a blend of the ancient with the modern to create a wonderfully tactile range of ceramics that is true to the original drawings,’ she adds.
The beautiful range also channels the artworks in more ways than one, with the team matching stoneware’s earthy colours to photos of the native grasses on Country! They even used outlines of Nana Jane Cheedy’s drawings to design the organic shapes, while another dish was created after hearing how the group liked to make their damper with a big bowl that could ‘sit comfortably in the crook of your arm’.
‘We all learn about the culture of the Yindjibarndi people, their flora and fauna, their food, the colours of the land, when we look at Nana Jane’s work,’ Kate says.
Shop the Robert Gordon x Juluwarlu collection exclusively through Myer.