Gurindji and Waanyi artist Tarisse King paints every day, channelling her connection to home through her artworks.
Currently based in New Zealand, King came up with the idea for a simple welcome mat design that would get people talking about traditional Aboriginal place names in Australia. “It would be cool if I went back home and heard someone refer to an area by its traditional place name,” she says. “I’d be so proud.”
King usually paints ancestral stories using acrylic on canvas, but she was inspired to work with doormats thanks to the campaign by Gomeroi woman Rachael McPhail to have Indigenous place names included on Australia Post addresses. “It’s about showing respect to the people who were here before you,” she says.
“I wanted [the welcome mats] to be a conversation starter, which I hope brings healthy conversations to the houses that they’re in. I feel like there’s so much confusion for people who want to be allies. For non-Indigenous people, I recommend they use names we’ve suggested.”
King pre-printed mats for 10 areas: Wiradjuri, Larrakia, Yugambeh, Turrbal, Ngunnawal, Whadjuk, Kaurna, Wurundjeri, Arrernte and Wadawurrung. If the name or spelling of the Country where you live isn’t represented, there’s also the option to order a custom mat.
“We could only work with a minimal design,” she tells Broadsheet. “Even though it looks like a rainbow, it represents a billabong. I use it to represent home. It’s not as detailed as I’d like, but the education and purpose are more important. I’d love to see everyone in Australia own one.”
Each mat is made using coconut coir and they’re printed in Melbourne (Naarm). They’re $95 and there’s about a six-week turnaround time for each order. Importantly, for the 35-year-old artist, they’re made from an eco-friendly, compostable material. “That acknowledgement, being compostable, was really important to me as part of a connection to Country. I feel like it’s my duty.”