First Nations Collection
The AO celebrates the world's longest continuous living culture at its core. Tennis Australia work proudly with local elders as part of its year-round commitment to excelling Indigenous culture in the sport.
First Nations Day is now a staple in the AO Inclusion calendar. Patrons on AO23 First Nations Day with experience activations and engagement pieces that authentically acknowledge and celebrate the First Nations people and cultures of our tennis community.
Dixon Patten (Bitja) has been commissioned to do the artwork for this year's Australian Open. Patten (Bitja) is a proud Gunnai, Yorta Yorta, Gunditjmara, Dhudhuroa man with bloodlines from Wemba Wemba, Barapa Barapa, Djab Wurrung, Wiradjuri, Yuin, Wodi Wodi, Wolgal, Monaro.
The artist takes us through the story and the thinking behind the symbology of his artwork. Segments of the larger artwork have been used in the AO x First Nations Collection.
The circle represents the community coming together not just from Australia but from all corners of the globe. The different patterns represent different First Nations communities. We are a diverse community, and that diversity has become more apparent since people have migrated here.
The U-Shaped Symbols
In the middle the u-shaped symbols represent people sitting. When they come and sit, they are not just talking but listening, they are observing, and they are taking that knowledge back and influence their communities.
Tennis Balls & Message Sticks
There are different tennis balls ... and between them are message sticks. That message stick is almost like a passport. Traditionally, they used to write notes on there for different neighbouring tribes as a way to communicate. It honours the different communications styles and ways of being. We are all not the same and there is beauty in that as well.
The boomerangs on the outside represent that returning, so hopefully it's returning to Australia but also back to their community. So, when people come internationally as well, when they experience, hopefully they have a great experience (and return with that).
Emu & Kangaroo
Different symbols ... represent emu and kangaroo tracks. I chose those two animals because they are iconic for Australia. They are on our coat of arms as well. So, I felt like it was necessary to include those.
The emu tracks that are walking through the different communities. These represent other communities from around the world.
And these are just the pathways, so everyone has got a journey, everyone has got a story to share.
Everything we do through culture, through Aboriginal culture is done through our storytelling process, and I think that is really important part of culture is that we observe, and we deeply listen. We've got a practice 'Gulpa Ngawul', and that means deep listening and so it's really about sharing your experiences and honouring your ancestry and honouring who you are. I always say to people when you go to other countries, it's about honouring and respecting that place, so I'm hoping people take away that knowledge and respect for First Nations people here in Australia - Dixon Patten
AO First Nations Day
First Nations Day will be held on 19th January 2022.
The land the AO is held on was once a significant meeting place for the Kulin Nations and we want to acknowledge the Traditional Custodians of the land (Wurundjeri Woiwurrung Country). Artist Bitja (Dixon Patten) will create an original piece featuring the AO's commissioned First Nations artworks designed to catch the eyes of the AO attendees