Blake Griffiths

Coat of Arms: Totem Status

Coat of Arms: Totem Status, 2019 

Coat of Arms: Totem Status is part of a series from National Emblem Reconstructed, pieces that largely utilise feathers and fur from the animals of Australia’s national coat of arms, namely the kangaroo and emu. It in part responds to environmental concerns, asking how is it possible that these animals can be given pride of place on the emblem but not on the ground?

The piece is a material experiment; the result of learning how to weave with such a simultaneously light and stiff material as an emu feather. The coat is timeless, old and new. Nothing is wasted, offcuts become cuffs. It was built by a tribe (well, a collaboration with Blake’s mum). The inside form and outside form are in concert, without schism; the time taken to weave, in itself an investiture. A totem, of traditional societies, is perhaps something earned, is it on the same plane as an emblem?

Blake was part of Designing Bright Futures in 2016. 


Image: Coat of Arms: Totem Status, 2019 (detail). Photo: courtesy of Blake Griffiths. 

Blake Griffiths

Where would you like to be in 5 years from now?
I'd like to be busy making having been busy making. I would like to better incorporate my ideas around breath and meditation into my exhibition practice and facilitate more well-being centred programs. 

How can designers make a difference?
I'd like to think the contagion of making is vital to our understanding of the social and geo-political crisis we are facing today. Like the processes required to 'design', we can make these problems clearer through observation, repetition, mediation and conceptualization, and may just provide some of the essential solutions for reconciliation, environmental action and inclusivity that we so desperately need today.


Image: Blake Griffiths, 2019. Photo: courtesy of the artist