A wonderful event was held at The Healthy Living Centre on Wednesday 23rd of May, as we officially unveiled our symbolic and beautiful water feature – which now graces the entrance to the Diversitat Aged Support’s, Healthy Living Centre. The significant art piece was a collaboration between the Diversitat Kuloo Arts group (Karen and Karenni weavers) and the local Wathaurong ‘Bringing Them Home’ group. The finished piece is now aptly named Dyeerrm Klo; thanks to those that helped create the finished product, workshopping a suitable name as part of the event. Dyeerrm is Wathaurong for Frog, and Klo is Karen for Drum. Dyeerrm Klo – Frog Drum. Both words are highly symbolic in both languages and the symbols (along with others) are represented in toughened glass which was made by Wathaurong Glass gifted Artists, Jermaine and Mark Edwards.
Everyone who came along to the unveiling were very excited to see the finished product; which was wrapped tightly in bright neon pink cloth, hiding it before the big reveal. Naomi from Wathaurong opened with Welcome to Country. Followed by Diversitat Aged Support’s General Manager, Robyn Martinez, who spoke in fine detail of the journey in creating the beautiful and artistic water feature. Robyn also gave ode to the meanings and representations of each symbol encased within the glass, and expressed her thanks and appreciation to all who had been involved with the beautiful cultural creation. Jasmine-Skye (Diversitat staff, Wathaurong Community Member, and creative player in the project) showed us through a presentation of photos describing the creative and collaborative journey. Caroline (Kuloo Arts Project Worker & independent Artist) and David (Bringing Them Home Group) also spoke passionately of the significance and meaning behind the project.
Once the formalities were wrapped up, it was time to head out to see the finished product. A member of each group helped to unveil the glass, and turn the water feature on. Dyeerrm Klo came alive – and it was a joy to see. Many participants took the opportunity to run their hands over the glass and let the water cascade over their skin. It was then photo time, as both groups took position in front of the impressive art work. It was evident that everyone was very proud of their achievement – with huge smiles, hugs and thanks given to each other.
A little about how Dyeerrm Klo came to be: In 2016, funding was sought from the Department of Human Services (DHHS) through the CALD (Culturally & Linguistically Diverse) Seniors Grant. The concept which we requested funding for, sought to honour and invite the Wathaurong Community to be a part of, and be central to, our new home in Norlane. The water feature is a beautiful cultural piece, representing the similarities of culture between our Karen and Karenni Refugees and the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.
During the design phase, each group described elements of their respective culture to each other through storytelling, visits and tours, craft and images. It was an ideal way to encourage the groups to become familiar with each other. The Wathaurong group introduced a sheet of Aboriginal symbols and their meaning to the Karen and Karenni group. This was fascinating to the Kuloo Arts group, who had great fun drawing the symbols and understanding their meaning.
Another indicative part of the design process was the story of Tiddalick – the frog that caused a flood, and adaptation of an Aboriginal Dreamtime legend about a frog who drinks all the water from the billabongs and rivers. The allegorical nature of the Tiddalick story had a familiarity to the Karen and Karenni group, due to both the Frog and the Eel being important in their culture also. The frog represents the Karen drum (due to the sound the drum makes). The symbol of the drum is so significant, it appears on the Karen flag. The eel is a key character in the story and a significant Wathaurong motif. The Karen have woven eel traps, like the Wathaurong do.
Common ground was found between the two groups, resulting in symbols and art created together for the Dyeerrm Klo water feature. And many thanks and acknowledgements must be given to all who were involved. Those talented people being, staff and members of both groups: The Wathaurong – Bringing Them Home group members; David, Phil, Michelle, Lianne, Darren and staff members Judy and Naomi. The Diversitat Kuloo Arts Group members; Shall Dah, Ma Nage, Paw May, Ting Lay, Ta Dah, Mu Si Si, Ha Shwe, Tabi Thah, Kre Boh, Boh Wah, Su Nu Nu, Do Rah, Per, Neh Thoo and Diversitat staff members; Jeffery, Mu Mu, Jasmine-Skye and Caroline. And those who collaborated in making the finished product: Wathaurong Glass Artists, Jermaine and Mark; Jeff Redman from Rendine, who arranged the building works and mechanics; and Stuart Quick and Jarrah who help design and make the planter boxes practical and pretty.
From all at Diversitat, especially us at The Healthy Living Centre, we give great thanks. And we encourage everyone to drop by for a look. We are incredibly proud of our Diversitat/Wathaurong group achievement – Dyeerrm Klo.