It may have taken a while for 'Borobi', the Gold Coast Commonwealth Games 2018 (GC2018) mascot, to be accepted into the hearts of Australians, but people are already falling in love with the look of official souvenirs.
Australian-made and Indigenous-made; the gifting and jewelry items such as keyrings, cufflinks, rings, pendants, earrings, brooches and earrings will be designed and manufactured by 'Bush Therapies', a business owned and run by Aboriginal artist, Nikki Chenoweth.
Ms Chenoweth is an established artist who uses unique millefiori cane designs from polymer clay; a rare medium, used by very few - if not, any other - Indigenous artists in Australia.
Her abstract designs reflect the environment around her, and descending from three Aboriginal lines; Guugu Yimithirr, Kalkadoon and Nyamal Nyamal, Ms Chenoweth draws on the diversity of Aboriginal Australia. However come 2018, Bush Therapies will reflect the south east Queensland region and the coming together of different countries.
"I take a lot my inspiration from nature," she told NITV. "It provides the most beautiful colour palette that can be provided.
"The Games have given me a great style guide in regards to the colour pallettes that they use as part of the whole marketing process and that has given me some beautiful artistic freedom to work with, and being able to use my art within their own frame. So, I've used some of the symbols on Borobi's hands and feet and I've used some of the colourways that they're going to implement."
Gold Coast Commonwealth Games (GOLDOC) Chairman, Peter Beattie AC has stated that the fact that Ms Chenoweth's Jimboomba-based business is 100 per cent Aboriginal owned, the product was locally manufactured and the artwork was distinctly Indigenous and one-of-a-kind, was important to them and he suspects it will appeal to a broad market.
GOLDOC has publicly supported Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander participation through its tendering process. The corporation is a member of Supply Nation and they collaborated with Bush Therapies through a forum specifically targeted to local south east Queensland businesses, but also Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander businesses. The announcement comes as GOLDOC prepares to finalise the release of the first ever Reconciliation Action Plan (RAP) for a major event, which will provide opportunities for the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community.
"It was an invitation by the state government to meet the buyers back in June," Ms Chenoweth told NITV "I was fortunate enough to be one of the south east Queensland businesses to meet with them and that was the initial meeting and that gave them an opportunity to actually physically see the caliber of work to use in regards to the merchandise. From that process it was a matter of putting in a business proposal, where I was given some selection criteria to basically support my ability to provide the merchandise that I produce.
Ms Chenoweth has collaborated with many organisation in the past, but the partnership with GC2018 master licensee MATEVENTS is new territory for an artist with over 20 years experience.
"This is the first time I've worked on a project that has stricter guidelines than other, but it's not strict in the sense that i'm not allowed to show my own artistic flare and that's wonderful.
"If anything this is all probably very new for them. I believe the type of merchandise that I'm producing is pretty ground breaking; the fact that every piece is handmade and no two pieces are ever the same. It's a piece of Indigenous art that is portable as well. I love those beautiful canvases and the artistic ability to create them, for some people it's not necessarily a logical piece of artwork to take home with them if they're travelling overseas. It's a contemporary format.
"Part of it being made by hand and from here, it's so significant. I'm liable to use the Australian-made logo which makes me extremely proud as an Indigenous artist."
As we celebrate National Indigenous Business Month this month, this collaboration sends a positive message about best practice and Indigenous achievement. Ms Chenoweth is one of a growing percentage of Indigenous people contributing to closing the entrepreneurial gap between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australia, and she says that Indigenous business is about understanding that every Indigenous person has something to bring to the industry landscape.
"Regardless if it's somebody who works in a construction company or an artist or somebody who is designing some technical app - It's about how far we've come and embracing and acknowledging who we are, connecting to our country and paying respects to everybody, especially our Elders that have got us to where we are today."