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by Sean Dec 08 2023

How Waan turned Black

How Waan turned Black
How Waan turned Black

I have to say being a part of the 2023 Blak Design program, run by the Koorie Heritage Trust at RMIT Ceramic Studio, was a great experience. Working with mentors Janet Fieldhouse and David Ray was incredible. Also, being able to use the RMIT facilities and kilns gave me the ability to make the largest ceramic vessel, I have ever been able to make, so far.

I had been tossing around the ideas for this artwork for a while, it is from a creation story I have heard throughout my life of How Waan turned Black.

It was also a deadly experience working with all the other mob in the program as well, listening to their stories and seeing their artworks come alive, most of these amazing artists had never worked in clay as a medium, which made it so much more incredible.

The other participants of the Blak Design program were Annie Brigdale (Yorta Yorta), Suzanne Connelly-Klidomitis (Wiradjuri), Nicholas Currie (Yugambeh, Kuku Yalanji), Trina Dalton-Oogjes (Wadawurrung, Gunditjmara), Eleanor Franks (Gubbi Gubbi / Kabi Kabi), Mick Harding (Taungurung), Darcy McConnell (Dja Dja Wurrung, Yorta Yorta), and Corina Muir (Yorta Yorta, Boonwurrung). As well as Blak Design Coordinator Sharn Geary (Bundjalung) and Ceramics Technicians Te’ Claire, Georgia De Wet and Ingrid Maklary.

In the end I was very happy with the results of my artwork, and also did a poem to tell my story.

How Waan turned Black

Waan the crow had gleaming white feathers

and a big secret he kept from all the others

what he didn’t let on, was he possessed fire

cooked meat, was his true desire

back then, everybody ate their meat raw

but Waan was never messy, that was hard to ignore

this brought on suspicion, why Waan ate alone

so very secretive, something unknown

a plan was derived to snatch Waan’s pack

Waan moved like a maniac grabbing it back

the pack burst open, glowing coals went flying

landing in the dry grass, the blaze was un-denying

Waan stamped out the flames, but this was a fail

he rolled on the burning land, to no avail

the fire spread to everyone, his secret was uncovered

Waan was scorched black, and fire was discovered

© Sean Miller 2023

The Blak Design program ended with an exhibition (FIRED UP: STORIES THROUGH EMBERS AND EARTH) at the KHT building at Fed Square. Running from 25 November 2023 – and extended till May 2024. Go and check out all the ceramic artworks produced by the Blak Design team.

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