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Indigenous artists use stars to navigate digital design

Eelemarni Close-Brown -

Indigenous artists from three different cultures have come together to design a digital artwork for a limited edition wrap to be used on laptops and tablets.

Three Indigenous artists will be forever connected through the stars despite living thousands of kilometres apart.

Kobi Sainty, Lala Gutchen and Tawhanga Rika have collaborated on a digital artwork, which features on a device wrap thanks to a partnership between tech giant Microsoft and Indigenous education tech company Indigital.

"The Milky Way was one of the things that we spoke about a lot and how our people pass on to the sky and watch over us and how we navigate with the stars," Mr Sainty told AAP.

"There are so many stories about the sky and we felt that connected to us."

Mr Sainty, a Palawa and Bunurong man who lives in Melbourne, worked with Lala Gutchen from the Torres Strait and Maori tattoo artist Tawhanga Rika.

They worked together in person and online for 12 months to design the artwork.

Mr Sainty said there were similarities between all three artists' cultures, despite vast geographic distances, and each of them contributed elements to the work.

The artwork is composed of cosmic overlays, waterways, traditional headdresses, stone fish traps, yarning circles, nature, weaving symbols and Maori cultural tattoos.

"There are elements throughout the artwork which represent our elders who are not with us but are watching over us, caring for us and making sure we are moving in the right direction and leading us to where we need to be," Mr Sainty said.

Ms Gutchen is a Meuram woman who comes from a family of artists and craftspeople.

Her practice centres on her journey as a young Indigenous woman seeking to revive her cultural identity in a colonised world.

"From the diamond designs representing our warup (traditional drum) to the connections of the lines and dots is like using the star constellations like my ancestors did to navigate the world," Ms Gutchen said.

Mr Rika is from Rotorua and specialises in tamoka tattoo designs.

He welcomed finding ways to bring his ancient culture into the digital world.

"This is a natural thing for us, creating art, and I feel like Indigenous people can adapt easily to these types of things," Mr Rika said.

"We just need to learn how to use the tools, but we've been doing this since before time."

Mikaela Jade, a proud Cabrogal woman and Indigital chief executive, wants to highlight the potential of First Nations people to embrace technology and share their art, stories and language.

"We want to inspire our people not just to look back at our culture, but to bring that knowledge into the now, to consider what we are today and what we'd like to be in the future," she said.

The artists and their communities will receive royalties from the limited edition works.

The wraps will be available for a limited time at Microsoft's flagship store in the Sydney CBD.

Eelemarni Close-Brown - AAP


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