This website uses cookies to improve your experience navigating our site. By continuing to browse, you are agreeing to our use of cookies.

OK, I understand

A New Not-For-Profit Fashion Collection From The Top End

Creative People

After moving to Darwin in 2012, Crystal Thomas immediately fell in love with the textiles being produced by Top End art centres. ‘They were bold, bright and striking. Hand-printed on community, they were full of joy and life. Each carried a story of place, of people, of country,’ she explains.

The interior designer found that many of the beautiful, hand-screened prints were only being sold locally, and at a handful of outlets in the NT capital. So, she set out to establish NORTH, a platform that could bring these textiles to the wider national and international markets.

11th July, 2019

Dakota and Jenna Tipuamantumirri (granddaughters of artist Cornelia Tipuamantumirri) wear Tiwi Jumpsuit in Nina’s Jilamara Tigers. Photo – Matt Sav.

Cassie Puruntatameria (daughter of artist Nina Lydwina Puruntatamer) wears Tiwi Cropped Cami and Tiwi Wrap Skirt in Kaye’s Jilamara Natural (left) Photo – Hillary Faye. Dakota and Jenna Tipuamantumirri wear Tiwi Jumpsuit in Nina’s Jilamara Tigers (right) Photo – Matt Sav.

Shaniqua Shaw wears Tiwi Boxy Top and Casual Pant both in Michelle’s Jilamara Nude and Black. Photo – Hillary Faye.

Cassie Puruntatameria wears Tiwi 3/4 Shirt Dress in Cornelia’s Jilamara. Photo – Hillary Faye.

Shaniqua Shaw wears Tiwi Boxy Top and Casual Pant both in Michelle’s Jilamara Nude and Black. Photo – Hillary Faye.

Shaniqua Shaw and Cassie Puruntatameria wear Tiwi 3/4 Shirt Dress in Dymphna’s Jilamara Natural and Cornelia’s Jilamara (left) Photo – Hillary Faye. Cassie Puruntatameria wears Tiwi Cropped Cami in Kaye’s Jilamara Natural (right) Photo – Matt Sav.

Elle Murrell
Thursday 11th July 2019

‘We have developed the capacity to work so closely with community, and for this collaboration to engage artists in putting brand new designs on screen.’ – Crystal Thomas.

‘NORTH has become the work of many generous hands and talented individuals,’ Crystal Thomas states, explaining that the look, feel, ethos and business foundation of the social enterprise has been an entirely collaborative process. NORTH’s small team, including Honey Hunter and a board of directors – Jenna Tipuamantumirri, Anisha Stifhold, Anna Moegerlein and Vinay Menon – endeavour to be a two-way bridge between community and the market. ‘When stories can travel between the artist, customer and back to the artist, that’s where NORTH has really found our magic.’

‘Our mission is to facilitate the economic agency of remote Aboriginal artists and art centres by generating business and creating meaningful employment opportunities on country. In turn, we aim to strengthen community pride and agency,’ Crystal tells. This begins with the art centre and artists, where collaboration is responsive to the needs and communication style of the art centre manager, centre as a whole, and individual artists. ‘We try to be careful not to come in with too strong an idea of what we want the artists to want out of the project – this can unconsciously dominate a creative process and potentially stifle a beautiful and unique idea from entering the conversation,’ she explains. ‘At the same time, we must maintain an awareness of what we have capacity for and that which would be sustainable and marketable.’

NORTH’s debut range, the Home Collection (2014) was closely followed by the Melville Island Upholstery Collection (2015), featuring the work of Cornelia Tipuamantumirri, a senior artist from Munupi Art Centre and the Tiwi Islands. ‘At that time, the screen printing studio at Munupi was no longer functional, Cornelia and her family were really happy to see those designs shared through the collection,’ details Crystal.

The not-for-profit went on to produce a range of cushions, a lifestyle collection and another upholstery collection, all featuring hand-screen printed designs from artists based in the Top End, before collaborating on a sleepwear collection featuring hand bush-dyed silk by Anindilyakwa women. Last year marked NORTH’s first fashion range, Warlu, featuring digitally printed designs from Walpiri artists’ paintings. The label further details its close collaborations, with artists including Bernadette Mungatopi, Kieren Karritpul, Dymphna Kerinauia, Nina Lydwina Puruntatameri, Michelle Woody and Kaye Brown, through its journal and beautiful films.

In development since 2017, The current Tiwi Strong Women’s collection has brought NORTH back to the Tiwi Islands. The range features pieces for women and men, in linen, as well as silk scarves and cushions. All the print designs were hand-made on community, and put onto screen through a workshop with artist Timothy Growcott. Each garment is hand-sewn in Melbourne by North’s seamstress Irina, whose partner Ken designed the patterns, while the accessories are hand-made by Honey and Crystal on Crystal’s deck in Darwin.

‘Knowing that the desire was there and community wanted this project, it was simply a story of capacity. It means a lot that through the development of NORTH as a social enterprise we have the capacity to work so closely with community, and for this collaboration to engage artists in putting brand new designs on screen,’ says Crystal. ‘It’s really special to have Cornelia Tipuamantumirri featured in this collection, it feels as if we’ve come full circle’.

The manufacture of NORTH’s ‘Tiwi Strong Women’ collection is being funded through its current pre-order campaign, while selected pieces will be available to purchase directly online from August 2019. Find out more about the social enterprise and view all the ranges at Northhome.org.

This Week

Stays

These New Luxury Coastal Cabins On Phillip Island Really Raise The Bar!

A tour of Fives Acres, a brand new boutique accommodation offering on Victoria's rugged South Coast.

News

An Extensive Art And Design Festival Taking Over Brisbane!

Brisbane Art Design (BAD) is a public art program bringing the Sunshine State’s exemplary creative scene to the fore throughout the month
Sponsored

Design Eye

Suzanne Gorman on Modernising a Mid-Century Home

Taking into account considerations of form, function and scale, interior designer Suzanne Gorman shares her design approach for mid century

On The Market

A Corner Store Turned Architectural Home Hits The Market In Brunswick

An 1883 shopfront turned architectural home with a pool and sauna is for sale in Brunswick!

Travel

Our Guide To The Perfect Road-Trip On The NSW Central Coast

From Terrigal and Avoca beaches to the lush landscape of Bouddi National Park, here's where to eat, sleep, visit + swim!

Interiors

A Crash Course In Renovating Your Own Home From Top To Bottom, With BuildHer Collective

Rebeka Morgan and Kribashini Hannon of BuildHer Collective bring us a new book containing all the info you need to embark on building or ren...
Rebeka Morgan and Kribashini Hannon

Creative People

Turn Your Kids' Artwork Into A Treasured Keepsake With Crumb Kids!

Local textile designer Bindi Howarth transforms kids artworks into custom made tea towels, tote bags, pencil cases and cushion covers - so C...

Homes

A Heartwarming Home Of A Stylist (And Family!)

Justine and Bob Murphy's warm and welcoming family home is like a slice of the country... in Northcote!

Studio Visit

Experimental Designer Jessie French Is Shaping A Seaweed-Centric Future

The Melbourne artist shares her process of creating seaweed-based bioplastics, the beautiful resin-like homewares she makes from it + what t...

A Day In The Life

A Day In The Life Of Chrissy Lafian, Founder And Creative Director Of Suku

With teams in both Melbourne and Bali, Chrissy lets us in on how she runs the lifestyle brand she's built from scratch!

Stays

Northern NSW’s Newest Holiday House, Made From Recycled Materials

Book your stay at Rockhaven at Booyong – a new holiday house made from recycled materials located 40 minutes from Byron Bay.

Food

Julia's Autumnal Weeknight Rocket and Hazelnut Pesto Linguine

Julia Busuttil Nishimura's linguine with a herby rocket and hazelnut pesto is a riff on the classic weeknight family meal by adding earthy,
Julia Busuttil Nishimura

News

A New Online Service That Designs Your Own Gallery Wall!

A new digital tool from Framefox allows you to build your own salon-style wall online, and have the final design delivered to your doorstep
Sponsored

Modernist Australia

A Modernist Mansion Fit For A 'Contemporary Goddess'!

Designed by architect Iwan Iwanoff in 1959, this incredible home in Mount Lawley, Western Australia is on the market.
Patricia Callan

Interiors

How To Nail The Bathroom Basics, According To Reece

A crash course in very excellent bathroom design, courtesy of bathrooms + kitchens merchandising leader at Reece Bathrooms, Daniella Santill...

View Comments

Similar Stories

Shopping

New Linens and Wallpaper from Willie Weston

Beautiful new textiles and wallpaper from the local social enterprise, working with Indigenous artists in remote Australian communities.
Elle Murrell

Small Business

Profit with Purpose · Koskela

Can money and meaning co-exist?
Fiona Killackey

Indigenous Art

Maree Clarke's 'Thung-ung Coorang' Jewellery

A studio visit with the trailblazing indigenous artist and designer, who has just launched an exclusive collection with NGV's design store.
Eugenia Flynn

This Week

A Day In The Life

A Day In The Life Of Chrissy Lafian, Founder And Creative Director Of Suku

With teams in both Melbourne and Bali, Chrissy lets us in on how she runs the lifestyle brand she's built from scratch!

Homes

A Heartwarming Home Of A Stylist (And Family!)

Justine and Bob Murphy's warm and welcoming family home is like a slice of the country... in Northcote!

Creative People

Turn Your Kids' Artwork Into A Treasured Keepsake With Crumb Kids!

Local textile designer Bindi Howarth transforms kids artworks into custom made tea towels, tote bags, pencil cases and cushion covers - so C...

On The Market

A Corner Store Turned Architectural Home Hits The Market In Brunswick

An 1883 shopfront turned architectural home with a pool and sauna is for sale in Brunswick!

Design Eye

Suzanne Gorman on Modernising a Mid-Century Home

Taking into account considerations of form, function and scale, interior designer Suzanne Gorman shares her design approach for mid century

Stays

Northern NSW’s Newest Holiday House, Made From Recycled Materials

Book your stay at Rockhaven at Booyong – a new holiday house made from recycled materials located 40 minutes from Byron Bay.

Food

Julia's Autumnal Weeknight Rocket and Hazelnut Pesto Linguine

Julia Busuttil Nishimura's linguine with a herby rocket and hazelnut pesto is a riff on the classic weeknight family meal by adding earthy,
Julia Busuttil Nishimura

Studio Visit

Experimental Designer Jessie French Is Shaping A Seaweed-Centric Future

The Melbourne artist shares her process of creating seaweed-based bioplastics, the beautiful resin-like homewares she makes from it + what t...

Modernist Australia

A Modernist Mansion Fit For A 'Contemporary Goddess'!

Designed by architect Iwan Iwanoff in 1959, this incredible home in Mount Lawley, Western Australia is on the market.
Patricia Callan

News

A New Online Service That Designs Your Own Gallery Wall!

A new digital tool from Framefox allows you to build your own salon-style wall online, and have the final design delivered to your doorstep
Sponsored

News

An Extensive Art And Design Festival Taking Over Brisbane!

Brisbane Art Design (BAD) is a public art program bringing the Sunshine State’s exemplary creative scene to the fore throughout the month
Sponsored

Travel

Our Guide To The Perfect Road-Trip On The NSW Central Coast

From Terrigal and Avoca beaches to the lush landscape of Bouddi National Park, here's where to eat, sleep, visit + swim!

Stays

These New Luxury Coastal Cabins On Phillip Island Really Raise The Bar!

A tour of Fives Acres, a brand new boutique accommodation offering on Victoria's rugged South Coast.

Interiors

How To Nail The Bathroom Basics, According To Reece

A crash course in very excellent bathroom design, courtesy of bathrooms + kitchens merchandising leader at Reece Bathrooms, Daniella Santill...

Interiors

A Crash Course In Renovating Your Own Home From Top To Bottom, With BuildHer Collective

Rebeka Morgan and Kribashini Hannon of BuildHer Collective bring us a new book containing all the info you need to embark on building or ren...
Rebeka Morgan and Kribashini Hannon

Similar Stories

Shopping

New Linens and Wallpaper from Willie Weston

Beautiful new textiles and wallpaper from the local social enterprise, working with Indigenous artists in remote Australian communities.
Elle Murrell

Small Business

Profit with Purpose · Koskela

Can money and meaning co-exist?
Fiona Killackey

Indigenous Art

Maree Clarke's 'Thung-ung Coorang' Jewellery

A studio visit with the trailblazing indigenous artist and designer, who has just launched an exclusive collection with NGV's design store.
Eugenia Flynn

The Design Files acknowledge the traditional custodians of the lands on which we work, the Wurundjeri people of the Kulin Nation. We pay our respects to Elders past and present.

First Nations artists, designers, makers and creative business owners are encouraged to submit their projects for coverage on The Design Files – we would love to hear from you.

Please email us here.