AO x Bitja: A tennis and First Nations collaboration

The Tennis and First Nations collaboration has something for the fans too, with a special merchandise range featuring Dixon’s vision for the tennis on seat cushions, re-usable stainless steel water bottles, adults cap and adults t-shirts.

AO SHOP: Explore the range here

“One of our ambitions at the AO is to celebrate and raise awareness of Australia’s First Nations people – the world’s longest continuous living culture. We want to acknowledge the traditional custodians of this land and celebrate our First Nations tennis legends – Evonne Goolagong Cawley and Ash Barty. Art is such a beautiful way to share culture and we really want to showcase the diversity of First Nations artwork which is why we have engaged Dixon of Bayila Creative. Dixon was able to work collaboratively with our TA team and local senior Wurundjeri Elder Aunty Joy Murphy to create something really meaningful for the Australian Open – which we are so excited to share,” said Kerry Tavrou, Tennis Australia’s Head of Inclusion & Diversity.

About Bitja (Dixon Patten)

Dixon is a proud Gunnai, Gunditjmara, Dhudhuroa and Yorta Yorta man, with blood connection to Wiradjuri, Barapa Barapa, Yuin, Wemba Wemba, Gweagal, Wadi Wadi, Monero/Ngarigu and Djab Wurrung.

He is an artist, designer, mentor, influencer and a strong community advocate and, as a member of First Nations communities who are the world’s oldest storytellers, treats seriously his role as a storyteller.

Dixon’s artistic practice is informed through a strong cultural value that his family and community have imprinted into his mind, heart, and spirit and the narratives often delve deep into familial history, often in celebration but also in search of healing.

Dixon’s exploration of culture and connection and his willingness to share and learn are informed by the art of Deep Listening, or in his native Yorta Yorta language ‘Gulpa Ngawul’.

About the art

In Dixon’s work, some of the Wurundjeri people are seen holding boomerangs, honouring Williams Barak – a ngurungaeta (headman) of his people – while they are also depicted showing hospitality and performing a ‘Welcome to Country’ tanderrum (ceremony) allowing safe passage, temporary access and use of land and resources by visitors.

Notably, many fans arriving at the Australian Open do so via the William Barak and Tanderrum bridges, connecting Birrarung Marr with the tournament site.

The artwork’s central circle represents people, from diverse communities and cultural backgrounds, gathering on Wurundjeri Country to enjoy the tennis.

Also depicted throughout the artwork is the Birrarung (Yarra River), an important resource to the Wurundjeri people which nurtured and sustained the landscape, provided abundant water and food and facilitated boundaries, ceremony, trade and economy.

The Yarra River flows along the Australian Open precinct’s southwestern boundary.

Dixon has been granted permission to honour Wurundjeri Country in his artwork by working with Aunty Joy Murphy, a senior Wurundjeri Elder.

His artistic practice reflects the strong cultural values instilled in him by his family and community, and his works reflect both cultural celebration and the search for healing, informed by the art of Deep Listening.

 

In another first for the AO, ‘Mob pricing’ will be available to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people on First Nations Day, offering a discount of $10 on Ground Passes.

To access the Mob price contact [email protected].

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