What does Country and designing for Country mean to you?
Country is everything to me. It’s all I am. My entire identity is contained within the Country I come from.
My name is Tom Day and I’m a Gunditjmara, Yorta Yorta and Wemba Wemba man.
I’m a designer, an artist, and a collaborator and have been working with ASPECT Studios on a number of different projects over the past three years.
My role has evolved over time and I’m very fortunate to design for country. From developing narrative content, putting cultural overlays across a site, trying to draw out stories of place, and ultimately designing with the design team to bring all of that into specific design elements.
I rely on my own identity, my own upbringing, and what it means to me to be those three groups that make who I am and really be an advocate and a voice for Traditional Owners across the urban landscape.
I grew up in a regional, semi remote community four hours west of Melbourne, and I know what it feels like when I walk across my own Country. There is a sense of being that I get. What I try to do is in the design process is to draw out that feeling across projects that I work on whilst educating others about the importance and the way that all my fellow Country men and women see Country when they walk across their own patch of it.
Its exciting because you are challenging norms, where a lot of people usually look at what’s in front of them and they cannot believe that culture exists across a landscape anymore. I am always challenging that thought process and really hammering down on the spirit of place.
I approach a lot of the conversations based on layering of country, understanding the context of that – from the parts you can’t see all the way up to the sky and beyond and everything in between.
There is an element that touches people from a physical point of view, but also a spiritual one. I really try and emphasize that thought for people.
I tend not to get people to think so much about it about it, instead I really try to get them to feel what it means to be us when we walk on Country and really try to put that in the forefront of people’s minds.
I’m a lucky man to be able to work in this field, I’ve met many great people some that I pass as really good friends and family, and I’m really excited for what the future might hold in this space.
Every single project, every conversation, every design meeting, Country is always at the forefront. It depends on the way that we look at it, but it always comes back to that because of the statement I said at the start – my whole identity and others like me, our whole identity is contained with Country.