Broached Monsters by Trent Jansen at Criteria Collection | Yellowtrace

Broached Monsters by Trent Jansen at Criteria Collection | Yellowtrace

Broached Monsters by Trent Jansen at Criteria Collection | Yellowtrace
Broached Monsters by Trent Jansen at Criteria Collection. Photography by Dan Hocking, courtesy of Trent Jansen.

 

Respected Australian designer Trent Jansen has carved a niche for his ability to re-interpret urban legends, bringing us closer to our collective past. Jansen’s latest collection of limited edition pieces for Broached Commissions, is an intriguing body of work which marks the culmination of 5 years of research and design investigation centred around the mythology of Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal inhabitants during the early years of Australian colonisation.

With Broached Monsters, Jansen traces the the early days of European settlement in Australia, referencing Robert Holden’s book Australia’s Folklore of Fear, and the designer’s own discussions with Western Arrernte man, Baden Williams, from Hermannsberg.

Prior to colonisation, Australia was imagined as a vast southern landmass, and little else was factually known. Fabulous creatures of incredible proportions and improbable anatomy, filed the void of knowledge. Fear of these creatures was legitimised when early British colonists started to learn of the frightful monsters in Aboriginal folklore. This fear of what lurked in the unknown fathoms of Australian bush land soon became a point of cultural confluence for indigenous and non-indigenous Australians.

Over 5 years of research and design investigation, Trent Jansen has recreated two creatures that represent both indigenous and non-indigenous vernaculars – Pankalangu and the Hair Wild Man From Botany Bay – suggesting these conflating myths as central figures for a united national identity, bringing together our culturally disparate population under a single Australian mythology.

 

Pankalangu Wardrobe, Broached Monsters by Trent Jansen | Yellowtrace
Pankalangu Wardrobe. Queensland walnut, copper, brass & moulded plywood. 2100 H x 1200 W x 570mm D

Pankalangu Wardrobe, Broached Monsters by Trent Jansen | Yellowtrace
Pankalangu Wardrobe. Queensland walnut, copper, brass & moulded plywood. 2100 H x 1200 W x 570mm D

Pankalangu Wardrobe, Broached Monsters by Trent Jansen | Yellowtrace
Pankalangu Wardrobe Detail. Queensland walnut, copper, brass & moulded plywood. 2100 H x 1200 W x 570mm D

Pankalangu Armchair, Broached Monsters by Trent Jansen | Yellowtrace
Pankalangu Armchair. Tasmanian wallaby pelt, plywood, copper, stainless steel, French leather, polyurethane foam & PVC. 800 H x 770 W x 730mm D

Pankalangu Armchair, Broached Monsters by Trent Jansen | Yellowtrace
Pankalangu Armchair. Tasmanian wallaby pelt, plywood, copper, stainless steel, French leather, polyurethane foam & PVC. 800 H x 770 W x 730mm D

Pankalangu Armchair, Broached Monsters by Trent Jansen | Yellowtrace
Pankalangu Armchair Detail. Tasmanian wallaby pelt, plywood, copper, stainless steel, French leather, polyurethane foam & PVC. 800 H x 770 W x 730mm D

Pankalangu Armchair, Broached Monsters by Trent Jansen | Yellowtrace
Pankalangu Armchair Detail. Tasmanian wallaby pelt, plywood, copper, stainless steel, French leather, polyurethane foam & PVC. 800 H x 770 W x 730mm D

 

PANKALANGU

“I was staying in Alice Springs on and off for a period when I was introduced to a Western Arrernte man by the name of Baden Williams. He took me to his hometown of Hermannsberg and on the way we got talking about Western Arrernte creatures. According to Western Arrernte story telling, pankalangu is a territorial being that lives in the scrub and is completely camouflaged in the desert and bush. Pankalangu can only move with the rain, and is made visible when the rain that falls on him is caught by the light, defining his form in a glistening silhouette.

As pankalangu is a Central Australian creature, my interpretation is formally influenced by some of the unique characteristics of other creatures from this region. Both the perente and the Central Australian locust became major influences as these animals possess an ochry, camouflaged exterior that masks an iridescent, hidden element – the perente hides is lilac tongue and the locust hides its beautiful translucent blue wings.”

Pankalangu Inspiration, Broached Monsters by Trent Jansen | Yellowtrace
Trent Jansen’s inspiration: Pankalangu by Tommy Watson.

 

Pankalangu Side Table, Broached Monsters by Trent Jansen | Yellowtrace
Pankalangu Side Table. Queensland walnut, copper, brass & moulded plywood. 405 H x 435 W x 350 D

Pankalangu Side Table, Broached Monsters by Trent Jansen | Yellowtrace
Pankalangu Side Table. Queensland walnut, copper, brass & moulded plywood. 405 H x 435 W x 350 D

Pankalangu Bowl, Broached Monsters by Trent Jansen | Yellowtrace
Pankalangu Bowl. Tasmania wallaby pelt, aluminium & New Zealand leather. 40 H x 270mm D

 

The Pankalangu Wardrobe, Armchair and Side Table are designed interpretations of pankalangu – these animals are adorned with scales which camouflage as they move, but when the light catches these copper scales their form is defined by a glistening silhouette.

 

HAIRY WILD MAN FROM BOTANY BAY

“After Captain James Cook’s expedition to Australia in 1770, tales of dense, alien vegetation and fantastic native creatures spread quickly in England. This seemed to be evidence that Australia was an imaginary world, occupied by unimaginable creatures and these exotic tales captured the imaginations of the British people. The exotic nature of this new land was so extreme to the average Britain that the line between newly documented flora and fauna, and fantasy seemed arbitrary. Long before the First Fleet of convicts left England bound for Botany Bay, a new mythical Australian creature arose from the frenzy of stories of the new continent, this creature was known as the Hairy Wild Man From Botany Bay.

Described as a savage giant of 9 feet tall, with a broad face, deathly eyes and covered in long, but sparse wiry hair, the Hairy Wild Man From Botany Bay surely occupied the thoughts of some of the new British arrivals as they surveyed the bush of Botany Bay, or tried to sleep on their first night in the new colony. Fears of this creature were thought to be legitimate when British settlers learned of a creature called the yahoo or yowie from local Aboriginal people, their descriptions matching the widely circulated depictions of the Hairy Wild Man From Botany Bay.”

Hairy Wild Man From Botany Bay Inspiration, Broached Monsters by Trent Jansen | Yellowtrace
Trent Jansen’s inspiration: Hairy Wild Man From Botany Bay from Through the Apollo Gardens, In Gawsworth, Near Macclesfield, Cheshire.

 

Hairy Wild Man From Botany Bay Bowl, Broached Monsters by Trent Jansen | Yellowtrace
Hairy Wild Man From Botany Bay Bowl. Materials include; Icelandic sheep skin, aluminium & New Zealand leather. 100 H x 450mm D

Hairy Wild Man From Botany Bay Chaise Lounge, Broached Monsters by Trent Jansen | Yellowtrace
Hairy Wild Man From Botany Bay Chaise Lounge. Icelandic sheep skin, plywood, stainless steel, New Zealand leather and American oak. 410 H x 1450 W x 700mm D

Hairy Wild Man From Botany Bay Chaise Lounge, Broached Monsters by Trent Jansen | Yellowtrace
Hairy Wild Man From Botany Bay Chaise Lounge, Detail. Icelandic sheep skin, plywood, stainless steel, New Zealand leather and American oak. 410 H x 1450 W x 700mm D

Hairy Wild Man From Botany Bay Chandelier, Broached Monsters by Trent Jansen | Yellowtrace
Hairy Wild Man From Botany Bay Chandelier. Hand blown glass, smoked float glass, silicone, fluorescent tube & cord assembly. 900 H x 700 D

Hairy Wild Man From Botany Bay Chandelier, Broached Monsters by Trent Jansen | Yellowtrace
Hairy Wild Man From Botany Bay Chandelier. Hand blown glass, smoked float glass, silicone, fluorescent tube & cord assembly. 900 H x 700 D

Hairy Wild Man From Botany Bay Chandelier, Broached Monsters by Trent Jansen | Yellowtrace
Hairy Wild Man From Botany Bay Chandelier, Detail. Hand blown glass, smoked float glass, silicone, fluorescent tube & cord assembly. 900 H x 700 D

 

As hybrid creatures, the Hairy Wild Man From Botany Bay Chaise Lounge, Chandelier and Bowl take influence from native Australian and European creatures, including: The Tussock Lymantriiddae – a spikey native Australian caterpillar; and the Icelandic sheep – the European animal with the longest fur. These objects employ materials, such as leather, glass and animal pelt, that were part of the common European vernacular during the time that the Hairy Wild Man From Botany Bay was imagined.

We had a chat to Trent about this collection – read on for a little insight into this series and his process, and see the fascinating behind-the-scenes images from the workshop.

 


Above images provide an amazing insight into the making process of Broached Monsters by Trent Jansen. Thousands of hours have been dedicated to the making of these objects by some of the countries best makers over a period of 5 years. It’s extraordinary.

 

+ Can you tell us a little bit more on how did this collection come about?

This project began when I was on a residency with Edra in Tuscany. At the end of my time with Edra, Massimo Morozzi, their creative director (since passed away) and I got talking about Central Australia. Massimo had spent some time there as a younger man and was very inspired by the place. He directed me to go to Central Australia in search for inspiration for a new project. Fortunately my partner Amy was living there at the time, so I went to Alice Springs and began to endeavour to understand the place and people as best I could. While doing some research on a local historical figure, Ted Strehlow, I was introduced to an elder named Baden Williams from an Aboriginal community just west of Alice Springs, named Hermannsburg. On a trip to Hermannsburg with Baden we got to talking about mythical creatures, specifically those that exist as part of Western Arrernte cultural narratives. This was a subject that seemed to excite us both, and we bonded over these stories. It was from Baden that I learned of the Pankalangu, the creature that forms the inspiration for one of the collections in Broached Monsters.

Sometime after this encounter, I began a PhD with the University of Wollongong, focusing on Australian mythology and its potential influence on material culture, and Baden’s stories came to mind. This formed the foundation of a research project that investigates the importance of creature myths as national narratives that hold relevance for both Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians alike.

From this body research came the Hairy Wild Man from Botany Bay, a myth about Australia that originated in England before the First Fleet sailed for Australia. This creature was the inspiration for the second collection of Broached Monsters.

+ What was the most challenging aspect of bringing this collection to life?

The most challenging aspect of this collection was the making. Each piece adopts a particular invented making technique, and each of these making techniques is very laborious in its realisation. Thousands of hours have been dedicated to the making of these objects by some of the countries best makers, my studio assistants and I, over a period of roughly 5 years.

+ What did you learn during the project?

This project coincided with a 3.5 year PhD, working under one of the world’s leading experts on Indigenous Australia art and its influence on broad notions of national identity, Ian McLean, so there had been a vast amount of learning on my behalf. I have been excited to learn more about Australian mythology, and in particular the creature myths that form the focus of the thesis, but the most complex knowledge has come in the form of a deeper understanding of Australian nationhood. Many of us think of Australia/Australian as being a simple concept, but we fail to realise that the word Australia wasn’t penned until 1814, and a national Australian sentiment didn’t emerge until the late 19th Century. There is a great deal of nuance in the evolution of a nation, and as people who operate within a nation-state, we forget about the slow evolution of a nation and the plurality that exists around every stage in that evolution.

+ Would you have done anything differently?

No. I learn a great deal from each project, and in many cases I have learned the most from the less desirable eventuations, so it seems unwise to lament these occurrences.

+ Any other interesting facts you could share with us?

The Pankalangu Collection was first designed for Massimo Morozzi, creative director of Edra, but when Massimo died in 2014, Edra decided not to continue with the project. After a period of mourning the loss of a great mentor and an exciting project with a company that I have idolised since I was a student, I showed the project to Lou Weis, creative director of Broached Commissions. Lou was immediately excited by the project, and these ideas found a new home at Broached Commissions.

 

Broached Monsters by Trent Jansen launches this evening at CRITERIA in Melbourne.
On show until 19th March 2017.

 

Pankalangu Scene, Broached Monsters by Trent Jansen | Yellowtrace
Pankalangu Wardrobe & Armchair.

 


[Images and quotations courtesy of Trent Jansen. Photography of final pieces by Michael Corridore.]

 

About The Author

Dana Tomić Hughes
Founder & Editor
Google+

Dana is an award-winning interior designer living in Sydney, Australia. With an unhealthy passion for design, Dana commits to an abnormal amount of daily design research. Regular travel and attendance at premier design events, enables Dana to stay at the forefront of the design world globally. While she is super serious about design, Dana never takes herself - nor design - too seriously. Together with her life and business partner, Dana is Boss Lady at Studio Yellowtrace, specialising in Design Strategy, Creative Direction and Special Projects. The studio takes a highly conceptual and holistic approach to translating brands & ideas into places & experiences.

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