May 15 2022 – Lydia Lassila
A project with purpose
Over the past 6 months I have had the pleasure of collaborating on a really beautiful and meaningful project called "Listening to Country" with Aboriginal artist, Ricky Kildea.
Although I'm non-Indigenous, I have a deep respect for our First Nations people, their culture and the incredible knowledge that has been passed down over thousands and thousands of years. The more I’ve learned (mostly as an adult), the more I’ve wanted to share in and celebrate Indigenous culture - and ask WHY isn't Indigenous culture engrained in every Australian's education and way of life? Why don't we incorporate Indigenous culture and knowledge in our sustainability practices? Reading books like Dark Emu, The Last of the Nomads and Fire Country has taught me so much about Indigenous culture, knowledge, sustainability, food and a truer history, that as an Australian, I should have learned as a child. These learnings mixed with my own experiences of being in the ZONE and being out in nature, inspired me to want to initiate this project and place Indigenous culture on a pedestal where it belongs.
For this collaboration, I wanted to explore the concept of being in the ZONE from an Indigenous context. The ZONE, to me, is a magical place. Where you are laser focused and in flow, and completely in the present moment. Where your senses are heightened, your mind is quiet and you move with purpose and control.
I get a similar feeling when I'm practicing yoga and when I’m out in nature. Whether that be in the bush, the ocean or on a mountain top, I’ve always felt its soothing power. It cleanses me, it gives me strength and energy, and it’s a place where I reflect and gain clarity. I wanted to know if this flow state and feeling of connectedness is a similar feeling to what Indigenous people experience when walking out on country?
As I'm living in Finland at the moment, Ricky and I communicated mostly over Facetime and via email as the project evolved. It’s been a really beautiful process with lots of back and forth and working together to express what we wanted for this piece, the story it would tell, the colours we’d use and importantly the feeling it would evoke when you step on to the mat.
You all know that my yoga mat is my sanctuary. It’s a safe place where I feel calm and grounded and can nourish my mind and body. When I stepped onto this mat for the first time, it was an amazing feeling. It filled me with a sense of calm and a connection to the ground that I stood on, but also a connection to my home in Australia. I felt a connection to my own personal story as I stood in the centre of the mat and my journey of life thus far. In the river I saw and felt all the triumphs and failures and the people and places that have been a big part of my life right through to where I am now.
It filled me with a sense of pride to know this collaboration celebrates our Indigenous people of Australia - the original custodians of our land and country.
Proceeds from each Listening to Country sale will be donated to Fair Game. Fair Game provides unique health & fitness programs and recycled sports equipment, building the capacity of under-serviced communities to promote healthy lifestyle choices and live healthier lives. They aim to reduce the risk of lifestyle related disease, build social cohesion and improve mental well-being.
Firesticks Alliance: an Australian Indigenous organisation that focuses on the use of cultural burning to heal country through fire and land management.