Deakin First Nations collaboration wins international gold

Perpetual Pigments launch at Geelong Design Week 2023. (Supplied)

A groundbreaking art-meets-science project featuring the work of Geelong researchers and artists has been recognised with a prestigious international award.

Perpetual Pigments: Sustainable Colour, Continuous Culture won gold in the Sustainability, Environment and Climate (Innovation) category at the 2024 Anthem Awards in New York.

The awards acknowledge impactful work promoting positive social change, with the 2024 edition receiving over 2000 submissions from 44 countries.

Perpetual Pigments, coordinated by Deakin University, invited First Nations artists to collaborate with researchers to test out pigments created from recycled textile waste at the university’s Institute for Frontier Materials (IFM).

IFM, which is based at Deakin’s Waurn Ponds campus, tested and documented the performance of the pigments with the group of artists, which included Wadawurrung woman Nikki McKenzie.

Co-curator and Deakin senior lecturer (Screen and Design) Dr Russell Kennedy said the Perpetual Pigments project was a circular economy inspired project that brought together art, science and design practice.

“(The project) clearly demonstrates how interdisciplinary knowledge sharing and cultural exchange can come together to produce better than expected outcomes,” Dr Kennedy said.

“It is important to note that the Perpetual Pigments applied the International Indigenous Design Charter to the project.

“These best practice protocols, which were developed by Deakin University, are officially recognised by the International Council of Design.

“The Gold award for Innovation will certainly elevate awareness and further advance the conversation about the effective application of colour pigments extracted from textile waste.”

First Nations artist Kiri Tawhai said the Perpetual Pigments project was brilliant and represented the best combination of art and science.

“To have that yarn that connects circular economy with First Nations ways of Knowing and sharing through visual storytelling, well it was just amazing to be a part of,” Kiri Tawhai said.

“Big congratulations to all involved.”

Perpetual Pigments premiered at Geelong Design Week 2023, held by the City of Greater Geelong in October last year.

Councillor Melissa Cadwell, chair of the Creativity and Culture portfolio, said Geelong Design week was proving to be an effective platform for people wanting to develop and demonstrate their ideas and creativity.

“Congratulations to Deakin and all of those who worked on Perpetual Pigments, this type of outcome is exactly what Geelong Design Week is all about,” Cr Cadwell said.