two trucks loaded with tubs of grasses with screen image behind

Dhuwarr: a celebration of Gomeroi grasses, grains and placemaking

7 October 2020
New installation shares knowledge of Country
For First Nations cultures of Australia, we are a collective of hundreds of countries, rich with connection to the earth. A new installation explores this understanding - a distinct approach that aims for meaningful cultural and knowledge exchange.

Stories from Gamilaraay Country are the protagonists of Dhuwarr: a celebration of Gomeroi grasses, grains and placemaking. The installation shares an insight into techniques, flora and environments including those involved in the complex task of bread-making.

Through found artefacts, the act of grinding grains with water to make bread can be dated back to 30,000 years ago, suggesting that the first known bakers of this dietary staple were Aboriginal people. Engineering practices to harvest endemic grasses for their grains spans across many generations, and today they are an integral part in passing down knowledge relating to Country.

Dhuwarr is designed to showcase the importance of Australian native grasses in food production. The installation creates a distinct community experience in the form of placemaking which highlights the significance of Indigenous knowledge and the research being undertaken at the University of Sydney’s Planting Breeding Institute in Narrabri led by scientist Dr Angela Pattison. Dr Pattison’s research focuses on the production and commercial viability of native Australian grasses and grains, cultivated for thousands of years by First Nations people on Gamilaraay Country.

The installation brings Indigenous agricultural technology and understanding of nutrition and health together with landscape and environmental design.

The design team consists of Michael Mossman (Kuku Yalanji), senior lecturer and architect at the School of Architecture, Design and Planning, Richard Leplastrier, one of Australia’s leading architects and Jack Gillmer (Worimi, Biripi), an emerging First Nations graduate of architecture. The installation aims to create a bridge between Indigenous and non-Indigenous knowledge systems. 

Sharing these storylines with an audience will facilitate exchange of knowledge in contemporary ways, an act influenced by ancient practices that build connections and engender new knowledge for our future generations.
Michael Mossman, School of Architecture, Design and Planning
Two model trucks on table with grains in them in front of images on screen

“Working with Jack and Richard, we have listened to and embraced the qualities of Country and First Nation cultures to enrich a process and produce an amazing new storyline,” says Michael Mossman.

Dhuwarr not only explores the agricultural knowledge passed through time and the richness of Gamilaraay Country within the Murray-Darling Basin, the ‘food bowl of Australia’, it is also a place for the Gamilaraay people to share their story, for visitors to gather, explore, yarn and learn.

Dhuwarr: a celebration of Gomeroi grasses, grains and placemaking is a key initiative in the University of Sydney’s “Connect for: A better future” program, which is themed around the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals and the idea of connections. 

Dates: 6 October – 15 November 2020

Location: Foyer, F23 Building, University of Sydney

Register for a campus tour which will visit this exhibition from 6-9 October 2020.

Dhuwarr: bread. A celebration of Gomeroi grasses, grains and placemaking

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