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Breville uses products as canvas for Indigenous Australian storytelling

Launching last week in Sydney, Aboriginal designer and curator Alison Page and Breville announced an extraordinary partnership with First Nations People and the National Museum of Australia.

Breville uses products as canvas for Indigenous Australian storytelling

An Aboriginal Australian Culinary Journey is tasked with creating products for the heart of the home. Each object celebrates contemporary design and reflects 65,000 years of ongoing Australian Indigenous culture.

Alison Page, curator of the series, is a Wadi Wadi and Walbanga woman of the Yuin nation. “An Aboriginal Culinary Journey is an ambitious initiative to tell stories of our country using products as canvas,” says Page. Page is currently Adjunct Associate Professor in design at the University of Technology Sydney, founder of the National Aboriginal Design Agency and member of several cultural Boards including the National Australia Day Council, The Art Gallery of South Australia and the National Australian Maritime Museum.

In 2006, Page approached Richard Hoare, Breville’s design and innovation director, to begin a conversation about bringing Indigenous art to life on products that speak to people in their homes through the narrative power of visual storytelling.

“The artists had the brief of combining ancient artistic techniques with current design acumen and an eye toward the future. Our artists, Yalti, Yukultji, Warlimpirrnga and Lucy embraced this project so effortlessly and intuitively and imbued so much story and meaning to each piece. I am so proud to be part of this rich and important chapter in Australian design and culinary history,” says Page.

Related: Powerhouse team: The cultural leaders shaping the museum’s public domain

The National Museum of Australia will feature the limited series in the exhibition, an Aboriginal Culinary Journey: Designed for Living. The exhibition focuses on the continuity of cultural mark-making associated with Indigenous food culture, by pairing First Nations traditional tools for living, alongside the six modern kitchen objects richly marked with signs of Country and culture.

“Living in the heart of people’s homes these once everyday objects, now wrapped in Country, become cultural ambassadors. This is what makes an Aboriginal Culinary Journey collection so significant – it’s more than just a product, it’s a piece of our culture and Country in the same way we buy art on canvas for our homes. We have always made marks of meaning on our tools for living, so this idea is just keeping up with the times,” says Margo Ngawa Neale, head of the Centre for Indigenous Knowledge, senior Indigenous curator and advisor, The National Museum of Australia.

To ensure the project had the highest cultural and legal integrity, Breville partnered with Dr Terri Janke, a Wuthathi/Meriam woman and international authority on Indigenous cultural and intellectual property. Dr Janke is highly regarded for innovating pathways between the non-Indigenous business sector and Indigenous people in business. “As an Australian company, we are proud to share these stories belonging to the world’s oldest living culture and to weave them together with our own 90-year history of innovation,” said Jim Clayton, CEO of Breville Group.

One hundred per cent of Breville’s profits will go to the National Indigenous Culinary Institute’s work to create employment opportunities for aspiring Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander chefs; the ‘Indi-Kidi Program’ by the Moriarty Foundation to support childhood nutrition and sharing Indigenous Food Culture; and for Indigenous scholarships and initiatives at the University of Technology Sydney to create pathways for employment in engineering, technology and design.

The exhibition, an Aboriginal Culinary Journey: Designed for Living, at the National Gallery of Australia will run until 7 August before traveling to London, Paris, Berlin, Brussels, Toronto and Los Angeles.


Alison Page

Launch of an Aboriginal Culinary Journey: Designed for Living in Sydney on 26 May, courtesy of Breville

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