Young Djab Wurrung Gunditjmara designer Tarni Jarvis has been selected to have her VCE (Victorian Certificate of Education) design project displayed as part of Melbourne Museum’s Top Designs exhibition.

Ms Jarvis, 18, completed her schooling at Ballarat High School and created a sustainable and traditional Indigenous dance outfit for her ‘Project Design and Technology – Textiles’ project.

“I wanted to create something that represents my culture and me as a strong, proud Djab Wurrung Gunditjmara girl,” Ms Jarvis said.

Made from possum fur, emu feathers and calico, Jarvis said her design reflects her interpretation of Indigenous culture.

“Culture means to me family, tradition, land, and a way of life and connection to community and other Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people,” Ms Jarvis said.

She said she chose to make her design as sustainable as possible to pay homage to the way her ancestors used to live from and look after the land, taking only what they needed without unnecessary waste.

“I found it hard trying to show how [the outfit] would truly look due to so much culture being stolen through the stolen generations. So, I had to do lots of research and make it as close to a representation of me more than anything,” Ms Jarvis said.

Ms Jarvis said her design process involved hours of brainstorming as well as drawing about 50 different designs to end up with the final product.

She said she drew inspiration from artworks at the Koori Heritage Trust and modern Koori fashion designers like Lyn-Al Young.

“It feels as though all the struggles through my schooling have finally paid off and it almost feels like it isn’t true. It’s just so amazing, and to be the first Indigenous student to get in was a huge honour on top of that,” Ms Jarvis said.

Ms Jarvis is one of 85 VCE media and design students to have her project selected for the annual exhibition, which is run by the Victorian Curriculum and Assessment Authority in partnership with Melbourne Museum.

Held from March 30th to July 14th 2019, students from around Victoria’s regional and metropolitan areas are represented in the exhibition with projects shown from a range of VCE subjects including Media, Product Design and Technology, Systems Engineering, Theatre Studies, Visual Communication Design and VET (Vocational Education and Training) Creative and Digital Media.

By Hannah Cross