The Atlantic Fellows for Social Equity Hub is complete!

The Hub’s “welcome space” incorporates a contemporary interpretation of message sticks as a ceremonial space for introduction, connection and mapping relationships. Comprising 360 message sticks in three concentric circles, each message stick represents the degree of a circle. When fellows, staff and visitors are inducted into the fellowship program, they locate their Country on a map placed at the circle’s centre and adorn the corresponding message stick with a woven sleeve. Over time, the collection of woven sleeves will represent the AFSE community and allow those on site to reconnect with where they are and where they’re from.

Agency Projects was commissioned to procure the installation and worked closely with Damien Wright and Indigenous artists from across Australia to bring the work to life. Each message stick comes from a single messmate tree that blew down in a storm several years ago on Dja Dja Wurrung Country. Damien worked with Curly Timbers to respectfully select and remove the tree in a way that minimised harm to Country. The tree was then milled onsite before making the journey to Melbourne where Damien then worked to carefully craft 360 Message sticks. The inner ring of the circle comes from the base of the tree, the middle comes from the middle and the outer ring comes from the top. Each ring articulates these differences through the natural markings in the timber. In the spirit of a message stick, 60 were sent across the Country to be carved and marked by many hands, carrying with them many stories. As a wet timber, the Message Sticks were dried in situ, warping and dancing to take on the characteristics of their new home.

Well done to the design team: Sarah Lynn Rees (Trawlwoolway), Tim Jackson, Veryan Curnow, Saba Komarzynski, Natalie Iannello, Chloe Hinchcliffe, Adelle Mackey. Big thanks to the project team: Irwin Consult, Lucid, McKenzie, Aurecon, BG&E, Aspect, DCWC, Deloitte, Kane and Arete.

Photography: Tom Blachford