Home' Scoop Homes and Art : Insite 24 Autumn 2010 Contents WEAVING WONDERS
Recoil: Change and Exchange in Coiled Fibre Ar t,
until May 2, Museum and Art Gallery of the
Northern Territory, Darwin NT
When 20 woman from the Blackstone community in the far north
of Western Australia won the 2005 Telstra Indigenous Art Award
in Darwin with a full-scale Toyota Land Cruiser made from desert
grasses, a subeditor went into overdrive writing: 'Oh what a
weaving: Grass Toyota wows judges.'
eir huge work made from desert grasses and painstakingly
sewn together was an instant hit that drew attention to the skilled
Aboriginal weavers working in the Central Desert.
Although basket weaving was relatively new, Ngaanyatjarra,
Pitjantjatjara and Yankunytjatjara women had always made items
from fibres, things such as hair belts, headbands, shoes from bark
and feathers, and hair string skirts or face coverings for modesty
and ceremonial purposes.
ey were introduced to coil basketry techniques in 1995 and
since then the Central Desert has become a major centre for
Indigenous weaving. e Tjanpi Desert Weavers in Alice Springs are
now well known leaders in the field of innovative fibre art.
It is this innovation that is celebrated in curated by Margie West.
As she explains, the coiled basketry technique "... was
traditionally practiced by Aboriginal people of south-east Australia
and was transplanted by missionaries many years ago to Arnhem
Land... more recently, the technique was introduced via workshops
to women of desert regions in Central Australia, South Australia and
Western Australia, and has spread rapidly along lines of kinship and
through skills exchanges".
Incorporating several non-Indigenous artists, such as Nalda
Searles who has been such a catalyst in promoting weaving within
these communities, showing alongside the Aboriginal artists from
the Central Desert and the South, the exhibition presents traditional
woven baskets and mats, as well as more
ese latter include a smaller
version of the Blackstone
women's Grass Toyota
made by Kantjupayi
Benson and a woven
biplane made by
the Grande Dame of
WORKS: (left) Bottles 2006, by Robyn Djunginy;
(below) Biplane 2001, by Yvoone Koolmatrie.
Grass Skull 2006,
by Nalda Searles.
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