Djinjama: Defying the Grid
Budawang (of Yuin Nation) spatial designer Dr Danièle Hromek with mother, Robyn Hromek and sister Siân Hromek, draw on their ancestors’ ancient techniques to create fishing nets that recast their ancestors back into the landscape, breaking the urban grids through a filter of culture.
Civic Square was architecturally designed in 1959 to be the new civic heart of Canberra. The original paving design featured a grid pattern that extended through to the shopping precinct around Garema Place. This installation work, Defying the Grid, is a response to how those architectural grids cut across the fluid lines of ancestral Country and the nebulous boundaries of Aboriginal nations.
With the design and development of urban spaces in Australia, First Peoples were historically moved out of civic spaces to the city’s fringes. Streets were marked as boundaries restricting entry into inner city districts. Today, more First Peoples live in urban centres and cities than in remote areas.
These nets were collaboratively made, over many weeks, by the women of the Hromek family. With every knot that was tied, a story was told. Family stories of love, loss, colonisation and resilience are knotted into the fabric of the net creating many micro grids of history and memories. Listen closely and you will hear their grandmother spinning a yarn while other women in the family bustle around.
This work was created in response to 2019 DESIGN Canberra theme ‘Utopia’. It raises the question – what may be utopic for one could be dystopic to another.