Inspiration

There are a few dimensions to our inspiration. The first, the incredible and mythical warrior woman Barangaroo – and the second, the incredibly skilled women in our living times.

We were inspired by a particular story of Barangaroo’s life. She had gone to a party with Bennelong, her husband.First Fleet diarist Captain Watkin Tench in A Complete Account of the Settlement at Port Jackson said that she was given a petticoat to cover her nakedness, which she duly discarded and walked around, proud in her body. While she enjoyed having her hair combed and cut, she became known to the English settlers for the same reasons she was known among her people – for her incredible skills in fishing.

We have taken this moment and fleshed it out. We’ve imagined that the petticoat is a crinoline, as was the fashion at the time, but we are turning the skirt into a fishing trap.

The crinoline is constructed from a base of 8 layers and segments. The symbolism of this represents the generations from Barangaroo’s time to now.

The base represents the past- a fluttering white skirt – below which is homage to elders past, symbolically dangling and jingling into the air above the earth – both pointing down into the earth like roots, and also entering the air space to encompass us all.

The representation of symbols relevant to Barangaroo’s life are depicted in the decorative form above this, in four layers. We have chosen to represent place and water. The symbols have been created communally in workshops, and as such the finished design holds many unique variations due to the many hands that are weaving the pieces.

The top three layers depict the hope of strengthening community through coming together, sharing common goals and visions. These are carved into kangaroo skins, warming the winter rememberance of Barangaroo, who we imagine happy in this larger than life fishing masterpiece.

The trap itself is a humorous offering to Barangaroo – who herself was a well respected fisherwoman. She was much valued for her ability to use hooks carved with Abalone and conch, and lines so delicate they rival any modern fishing lines. She’d see the humour in creating such a large trap that would only catch enough fish for a small tribe, and she’d also appreciate the serious theme of sustainability.

As Grace Karskens notes in her article “Barangaroo and the Eora Fisherwomen” (2014), Barangaroo had a keen sense of how to fish in a sustainable fashion.

“Eora women’s control of the food supply would have been essential to their status and self-esteem, as well as their power in society. So, what may have triggered Barangaroo’s anger on first meeting the whites was fish. This meeting, on the north shore at Kirribilli in November 1790, coincided with a massive catch of 4,000 Australian salmon, hauled up in two nets. Forty fish of five pounds (0.5 kilos) each were sent as a present over to Bennelong’s group. [12]

Two hundred pounds (91 kilos) of fish may well have been far more than the small group could eat – an extravagant, wasteful gift, given from men to men. As an Eora fisherwoman, winning fish one-by-one through skill and patience, Barangaroo may have felt insulted.”

As such, our sculptural fish trap skirt provides the memory of Barangaroo with a modern message of sustainability, and also a message to the people of today –

You have so much more to offer than your appearance. 

 

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