Artists on Groote Eylandt are quietly proud that their work is causing a stir in the Australian fashion world.
The successful Country to Couture fashion show at the Darwin Aboriginal Art Fair Foundation in December was followed by a second show in Melbourne in January.
Two artists, Annabell Amagula and Jeanelle Mamarika, went to the Darwin show – but covid forced them to stay away from the Melbourne event.
Wearable art designs are made by the many talented artists from the Anindilyakwa Art Centre who have been learning textile skills with Darwin’s designer Anna Reynolds.
The designs incorporate ancient and modern art forms, including pandanus weaving and bush dyeing, along with woven sculpture, such as Maicie Lalara’s Monster Fish.
Mentored by Reynolds to experiment with new ways to express their ancient knowledge, artists also employ digital imaging and printing processes to create these new designs.
Annabell is a string maker and weaver.
She learnt bush dyeing from her grandmother from the age of five – by 12 she was making and dyeing her own baskets.
“I’m happy when I’m telling my story,” she says.
Jeanelle concentrates on pandanus weaving, bush dyeing, and jewellery making.
“I always work with the pandanus the old ways,” she says.
The fashion designers use a range of materials, including pandanus leaves and discarded fishing nets cleaned up from Groote beaches by the Anindilyakwa Land and Sea Rangers. Every piece of fabric has a story to tell.
The thriving Anindilyakwa Art Centre was delighted when NITV broadcast the Country to Couture show on January 22.
Many of the eye-catching fabrics will soon be available from the art centre, as well as on their website and at the Darwin Aborignal Art Fair in August this year.