I never thought I would love the desert but walking through the ancient landscape on the Larapinta trail was eye-opening. I learned to look past what at first seemed a parched, uniformly ochre-coloured, harsh and impenetrable place, to appreciate its real beauty. On our last night, we woke at 1.30am to climb, single file, only by the light of our head torches, to the top of Rwetyepme (Mount Sonder) in Central Australia. After a few hours walking in the dark, only able to see the back of the feet of the person in front of us, we made it to the summit in time to watch the dawn break and slowly reveal a breathtaking view of the landscape we had been walking through for the past week. l will never forget that moment and the feeling it inspired.
I am not religious but can identify with many of the values ascribed. A trip to Sri Lanka with our family made me appreciate the spiritual side of religion. From gold Buddhas lying in adorned caves to families dressed in white and carrying lanterns as they walked through villages as part of a Buddhist ritual, I could see how this idea of a being bigger than ourselves could be appealing.
One of the things I have learned from my travels to Elcho Island in Arnhem Land over the years is the importance of culture and heritage. We are lucky to have worked with many incredible artists, some of whom are very senior leaders in their language groups. I have learned that culture is everything for the Yolngu artists with whom we have worked – it is their north star in life and something precious that must be passed on and preserved. Much of their focus is on teaching their children and grandchildren to have pride in their culture.
In the Tarkine on the west coast of Tasmania recently, as we walked in the forest, I lost the group for a while. I looked up at these huge ancient trees soaring into the sky. Their trunks and everything around them were cloaked in this soft, lush shade of green. And everything was silent. It is so rare to have that stillness and quiet in modern-day city life. When things seem too hectic and crazy, I now try and think about that moment and picture that beautiful ancient forest.
Sasha Titchkosky is co-founder of Koskela, an award-winning Australian furniture and design business that works with indigenous artists. Ngalya, a new collection of handwoven lighting designs, made in collaboration with six indigenous communities, celebrates a decade of Koskela's social impact work. It's on display at Tarnanthi at the Art Gallery of South Australia till January 27. See agsa.sa.gov.au; koskela.com.au