Keg de Souza
Nganga toornung-nge dharraga Bunjil [Looking down from the wings of Bunjil] 2021-22
powder coated steel, net, native plants
600 cm (diameter)
Commissioned for ACCA’s Who’s Afraid of Public Space program, Nganga toornung-nge dharraga Bunjil takes the form of a garden and play equipment. It is designed as a grassland learning garden, and a sculpture intended for climbing, play and relaxation for visitors of all ages. As a garden, Nganga toornung-nge dharraga Bunjil reflects artist Keg de Souza’s interests in practices of re-wilding colonised landscapes and the resistance of nature to taming and control. Working with local advisers and suppliers, the garden is populated with grasses and aromatic flowers that are endemic to this area, where, “In Victoria”, days Souza notes, “99.3% of native grassland areas have disappeared”.*
The sculpture offers an aerial perspective from which to view the native garden. The title of the work, Nganga toornung-nge dharraga Bunjil, is a Wurundjeri phrase roughly translated as ‘looking down from the wings of Bunjil’. The name was generously offered during de Souza’s consultations and conversations with Wurundjeri Elders and the Wurundjeri Woi-wurrung Cultural Heritage Aboriginal Corporation. The artist extends her thanks Uncle Dave Wandin, Aunty Gail Smith, Charley Woolmore, Zena Cumpston and Katherine Horsfall for advising on this project.
* Noted from a conversation with Barkandji woman Zena Cumpston, researcher and author of the Indigenous plant use booklet, exploring the cultural, nutritional, technological and medicinal use of indigenous plants.
Keg de Souza is an artist of Goan ancestry who lives and works on unceded Gadigal land in Sydney.
Architecturally trained, Keg de Souza’s practice activates social and spatial environments, making reference to her lived experiences of squatting and organising with projects that use temporary architecture, radical pedagogy and food politics. De Souza also draws on her personal experiences of colonialism, which informs her richly layered practice.
“This grassland garden was inspired by a conversation I had with the ever generous and Inspiring Barkandji researcher and author, Zena Cumpston, who noted that ‘in Victoria 99.3% of native grassland areas have disappeared’. The work was developed in consultation with Uncle Dave Wandin, and Aunty Gail Smith generously named the work ‘Nganga toornung-nge dharraga Bunjil’ (Looking down from the wings of Bunjil). Hopefully, this work can open up conversations of reviving colonised landscapes as you lay back, play and stare down at the grassland species. A huge thanks to the massive amount of people who collaborated/made this project happen and navigated all the obstacles to get there thank you ACCA and the Convent!”
Enchylaena tomentosa (Ruby Saltbush)
Disphyma crassifolium (Hot Stuff / Pig Face)
Calocephalus citreus (Lemon Beauty)
Microlaena stipoides (Weeping Grass)
Brachyscome multifida (Cut Leaf Daisy)
Leptorhynchos tenuifolius (Wiry Buttons)
Wahlenbergia capillaris (Blue Bell)
Rytidosperma racemosum (Wallaby Grass)
Chrysocephalum apiculatum (Common Everlasting)
Poa sieberiana (Grey Tussok Grass)
Themeda triandra (Kangaroo Grass)
Austrostipa elegantissima (Feather Grass)
Rytidosperma caespitosum (Common Wallaby Grass)
Poa labilliardieri – Yan Yean (Tall Tussok Grass)
Commissioned by the Australian Centre for Contemporary Art (ACCA), Melbourne, 2021-22
Co-presented by Abbotsford Convent and ACCA, as part of ACCA’s long-term research project and exhibition, Who’s Afraid of Public Space? 2021-22
Courtesy of the artist, Keg De Souza