Victorian Aboriginal Weaving Collective

19 May – 27 July 2016

Victorian Aboriginal Weaving Collective

The Victorian Aboriginal Weaving Collective present an exhibition celebrating their expertise and diversity. Showcasing both traditional fibre craft practices and bold, creative expressions utilising alternative materials.

Sandra Aitken, Kylie Bird, Donna Blackall, Suzanne Connelly-Kildomitis, Cassie Leatham, Greta Morgan, Denise Morgan-Bulled, Glenda Nicholls, Marilyne Nicholls

Curated by Hannah Presley

The Victorian Aboriginal Weaving Collective sprouted from a successful series of professional development projects supported by Creative Victoria and Footscray Community Arts Centre. Weavers from across Victoria met to discuss their practice and share experiences from their own communities, the Senior Weavers then gathered for further meetings to develop their practice and establish a collective to support each other in the continued development and profiling of their work.

Aboriginal communities in the South East of Australia have a rich history of utilising weaving techniques across many aspects of life including ceremonial, decorative and practical applications. There is a documented history of Victorian weaving techniques, particularly coiling, travelling across the country with missionaries in the early 19th century.

The contemporary practice of the Victorian Aboriginal Weaving Collective stems from a strong cultural connection which is perpetuated through ongoing generational learning. The process of weaving, from the collection of suitable grasses, to sitting down and coiling baskets or other forms, creates an important space for imparting cultural knowledge. The whole process of weaving is therapeutic; spending time with elders and family, using your hands, listening to stories and learning. It can be a safe place, a healing space, and has been for many generations.

The process of weaving strongly connects to the reinforcement of environmental messages and Aboriginal cultural protocols in communities that can be overshadowed by other elements in contemporary art and craft practice.  Maintaining a relationship with Country is an integral part of the weaver’s practice, by sourcing grasses and natural materials they nurture a continued relationship with the land.

The members involved in the collective are professional artists, many with a history of practice over 20 years and most of whom rely on the income generated from their craft and the teaching of workshops in weaving process and techniques. Since the beginning of 2016 members of the collective have participated in festivals, exhibitions and workshops across the state and there are a number of exciting projects planned throughout the year with the ultimate aim of lifting the profile of Aboriginal fibre-craft artists and Aboriginal weaving practice in south-east Australia.

Catalogue essay by Hannah Presley

Viewable 24/7 in the Craft Victoria Window Space
31 Flinders Lane Melbourne