With the annual celebration of First Nations culture starting this week, Amazon Australia has transformed some of their boxes into canvasses, featuring a bespoke artwork by YortaYorta artist Mandi Barton.
From 3 to 17 July, tens of thousands of customers will receive their orders in Amazon’s iconic boxes with Indigenous artwork.
Melbourne-based artist Mandi, was blown away by the chance to share her work and visual storytelling to Amazon’s customers throughout NAIDOC Week.
“I’m really excited about it,” she says.
My aim and my purpose is to create culturally safe spaces with art and design, and the fact Amazon has actually committed to doing this, shows its committed to making change. It creates opportunities for people to be able to talk and ask questions
Mandi was first engaged by Amazon to create a large-scale mural across an entire wall of Amazon’s fulfilment centre in Ravenhall Melbourne in 2021. The latest project for Naidoc has seen Mandi adapt the mural artwork to appear on limited edition Amazon’s boxes to celebrate the connection Mandi has with Wurundjeri country
Mandi’s artwork is named “Tales of Platypus (Berranga)” and depicts a platypus swimming through a creek – the platypus being Amazon’s Ravenhall Fulfilment Centre official mascot. Mandi explained that the special qualities of the platypus, which once inhabited the Koroit Creek next to the new fulfilment centre, made it the perfect candidate for her mural.
“The platypus has many characteristics, it’s different and unique, it represents independence, creativity, adaptability, and flexibility,” she explained.
“It also signifies yapaneyput (unity) and connection, having many relationships, collaborating, and engaging with many different parties. The lines around the platypus in the water (the creek: nitiya) and the platypus footprints across the lands symbolises its movement and travel. The act carries the platypus to its destination going from location to location forming its connection to the water, the land, and the communities.
The circles across the land, above and below the platypus are the gatherings, of people travelling to come together. Coming together for work, play and wellbeing, for continuing the purpose and responsibilities. The circles also symbolise the different communities, the people, and the relationships across the land.”
The driving force behind this initiative to mark NAIDOC Week was Amazon procurement operations manager Kelly Godschalx, who was inspired use the box to celebrate Indigenous culture after Mandi’s large-scale platypus mural celebrating Amazon’s essence and connection to Australia was unveiled at the Ravenhall Fulfilment Centre (FC)in Melbourne last year.
“We saw the artwork when we visited the FC and thought it would be a brilliant idea to put some indigenous artwork on our boxes so we could get involved in NAIDOC Week and create awareness of First Nations cultures amongst our employees and customers,” explains Kelly.
“The hope was that when our customers receive their Amazon package with the beautiful artwork created by Mandi that it would turn their minds to indigenous culture, and encourage conversation around some of the issues that are faced by Indigenous people. We also hoped it would create greater inclusiveness and equality.”
Kelly also has a deeply personal reason and commitment to promoting First Nations issues because her brother Dylan, 39, and his three sons, Sebastian, 10, seven-year-old Tavita and three-year-old Silas are members of the Muruwari Mob.
“I grew up very closely connected to the indigenous community, which is why it’s very important to me to do what I can to promote and celebrate this culture,” Kelly says.
I feel very special to have that insight into our First Nations people and it helps me to have a wider connection and a desire to be open and want to learn more about it to understand more about Australia.
Kelly is already planning to send her nephews gifts in the boxes emblazoned with Mandi’s art, and says NAIDOC Week for her is an opportunity to celebrate and to take the time to learn about, and reflect on, First Nations’ rich history, and focus on how as a nation and as an individual we can be more inclusive to everyone.
It’s hoped that this year’s Get Up! Stand UP! Show Up! Theme will be a call to action to bring about systemic change, and reflect and acknowledge the significant acts and achievements of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples in the fight for their rights.
This initiative is part of Amazon Australia’s early steps to recognise, integrate, and celebrate Indigenous cultures through its Reconciliation Action Plan.