Case study: Iuk at EY

Interior Designer
Ernst & Young
Ngardang Girri Kalat Mimini (NGKM)
Melbourne; Boon Wurrung and Woi Wurring Country of the Kulin Nation
Litte Rocket

Iuk is more than a pendant light. It is a piece of living art, capturing the strength, ingenuity and beauty of our First Nations peoples.

What began as an idea and desire to showcase and celebrate Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, cultures and practices was brought to life when Ernst and Young (EY) engaged Koskela, in collaboration with Ngardang Girri Kalat Mimini (NGKM), to create Iuk - a bespoke lighting piece designed to reflect the significance of the eel trap and its importance to both traditional and artistic Koorie practices.

NGKM is a First Nations artists collective supporting Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women and trans-diverse artists living in Victoria. NGKM is grounded in culture and works to promote the continuation of traditional practices in the contemporary art space. The name Ngardang Girri Kalat Mimini means Mother Aunty Sister Daughter and is a combination of the languages of the original founders of the collective.

  • Ngardang - Mother (Waddawurrung – Ballarat Region)
  • Girri – Aunty (Gunditjmara – South West Vic)
  • Kalat – Sister (Woi wurrung/Wurundjeri – Melbourne region, north of the Yarra)
  • Mimini – Daughter (Ngarindjeri – South Australia)
Iuk is a reflection of the collaborative efforts and craftsmanship of Georgia Macguire, Aunty Glenda Nicholls, Aunty Lorraine Brigdale and Aunty Janet Bromley. Through a series of workshops hosted on Wathaurong, Dja Dja Wurrung and Taungurung Country, the Aunties gathered from across the state to weave upon the Iuk frame. The frame was conceptualised by NGKM and realised by Koskela's industrial design team, drawing inspiration from the traditional eel trap to create Iuk, a double ended trap featuring two globe lights illuminating from within and representing the eels themselves.

Playing with layered transparency, textures and sustainable materials, NGKM's nuanced approach highlights the skills of each artist whilst working in harmony with the overall piece. From Aunty Janet's reclaimed materials, to Georgia's incorporation of paper bark, each element has been carefully harvested, curated and applied to the frame, creating an interconnected piece of living art.

Iuk is past, present and future - a symbol of the coming together of peoples from different cultures and backgrounds to connect and collaborate. Iuk captures the spirit of reconciliation, reminding us all that we are in the presence of the world's oldest living culture.

Eel traps play a significant role in First Nations aquaculture both as a means of fishing and an artistic practice. For a time the practice of weaving eel traps was lost but with the help of incredible Koorie elders and master weavers like NGKM's Aunty Glenda, the tradition has been revived and serves as a source of inspiration for First Nations artists.

"This was a wonderful project for our team to work on with NGKM, Ernst & Young and the Gensler team. Working with the NGKM artists, learning the story of Iuk and its relevance to all the artists was inspiring and helping realise the artists' vision was a real highlight for our team."

Sasha Titchkosky
Koskela CEO and Founder

In addition to the creation of Iuk, Koskela engaged Little Rocket, a First Nations owned and run videography business with roots to the Gurindji community (NT) to document this special collaboration. Despite the presence of covid and rapidly changing restrictions, Little Rocket was able to capture the Aunties on Dja Dja Wurrung and Taungurung Country, Bendigo for their first meeting where they held a Welcome to Country and Smoking Ceremony lead by Waddawurrung elder, Dean Gilson.

"The piece is intended to tell the story of how the cycles of Country nurture and sustain First Nations people. It is an open-ended piece with the lights representing two eels. As First Nations artists the evolution of the object itself is important. The process gives our objects cultural meaning. From the initial stories of Country to the stories of harvesting materials from that country, the stories we share as a community while creating a work, and the significant moments that occur as an object is made. These stories are reflected in Iuk, as we have acknowledged and celebrated important moments in the work. There is a small, long neck turtle that represents someone who passed away this year and even references to Ash Barty winning Wimbledon as we were weaving.

Ngardang Girri Kalat Mimini would like to thank Koskela and EY Australia for giving us the opportunity to come together and create this unique work. This piece has generated significant interest in our collective and will most likely lead to more opportunities like this one for the group."

Georgia Macguire
Wurundjeri artist and founding member of NGKM

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