It’s a desert island in a desert sea. Looking at it from afar, Uluru or Ayers rock seems almost newly born—it just popped up out of nowhere. The truth is it’s connected to Kata Tjuta, another wonder about 30 km away, by an underground mass apparently
from time in memorium—keeping it anchored in place. We will take a closer look on how Uluru influenced Australian design.
Uluru is a magical place. It must be one of the most photographed objects on earth. Spending the time to look at all the photographs that have been taken is a remarkable experience alone. It’s also been painted dozens of times—evening, early morning, noon—all represented by a breathtaking panorama of artists who are fascinated with its shape, colors and range of moods. Even the satellite photograph is almost a work of art and presents a very different impression from the air. Many photographs are taken at a distance because of its enormous size: 318 meters high and 8 km around. A climbing fence has been erected for those that want a view from the top, which seems somewhat ludicrous, considering all the interesting formations are at the bottom.
When walking around the base of the Uluru monolith one can see lots of action taking place. One area resembles The Wave (another Australian rock formation), but the Uluru area is most interesting, as it features what looks like an ornamental frieze on its surface. Your designer eyes want to create a fortress city on top of a mountain range.
There are more obvious features like The Skull, which looks like a human head. There’s another Skull formation which looks like a Spartan helmet sitting on the ground, waiting for its giant owner to reclaim it.
Another view allows you to “read” the cuneform symbols on the side of the great beast during sunset when the shadows deepen to reveal them. These shapes are aboriginal prompts (mapped onto the rock) that tell the story of the snake ancestor and her eggs. It’s fascinating to learn that the eye sees the purpose before the ear hears the word.
One tourist describes them as “barely more than a classroom blackboard with a jumble of signs and symbols used to aid in passing on the oral tradition.” It seems inevitable—and disturbing—that time and erosion will destroy them. Because these cuneform symbols are the largest aboriginal record in Australia, the design community is now developing projects to preserve them in a series of displays around the capital city.
Coincidence or Inspiration?
I have one last observation on the base of Uluru. Quite startling is this formation when seen with a designer’s eye. What’s your guess on this one? Has to be coincidence, right?
Share your thoughts in the comments below.