Australia’s Top End region is home to numerous fibre artists who harvest, dye, and weave natural fibres into incredible works of art. Traditionally made with utility in mind, these works draw on resources from the land to beautifully meld form and functionality.
The practice endures today due to cultural resilience and sustainability, highlighting the strength of First Nations peoples and their connection to Country.
Thread Count is a new exhibition showing at Agency Projects and Padre Coffee in Collingwood Yards featuring more than 100 bags and baskets. The multimedia installations champion these pieces and the artisans behind them, including female artists from six different Aboriginal-owned and operated remote art centres across Arnhem Land: Buku-Larrŋgay Mulka, Maningrida Arts, Gapuwiyak Culture and Arts, Marrawuddi, Injalak Arts, and Bula’bula Arts.
‘It’s so powerful to showcase the strength and resilience of both Aboriginal cultures and Aboriginal women who are the humble, unwavering backbones to a lot of our communities,’ says exhibition curator Nina Fitzgerald, a proud Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander woman. ‘By giving weavers a new platform to share their stories and promote their craftsmanship, the practice can continue to be sustained.’
Thread Count challenges visitors to view these woven works in the context of contemporary fashion. These pieces are not only beautiful works of art, but functional and sustainable garments. Everything from the harvesting to the preparation and weaving itself is done by hand using natural fibres and dyes.
‘These practices are the epitome of slow fashion, which is becoming an increasingly pertinent consideration of the contemporary fashion narrative,’ says Nina. ‘In Australia, we are so lucky to have a wealth of knowledge we can draw on to develop more sustainable approaches. In fashion particularly, all we need to do is look to the master weavers who have been weaving together stories since time immemorial.’
Thread Count also features photographs by Nina, capturing the art of harvesting and the process of weaving; and a native floral installation by Alchemy Orange.
The exhibition is located across the Agency Projects and Padre Coffee locations at Collingwood Yards. The two are ongoing collaborators as part of Padre Coffee’s Good Coffee Doing Good program, supporting the Agency Projects’ Ngurra Kutjuwarra (Together on Country) program that enables Warlayirti Artists to travel and return to their ancestral Country. $4 of every Padre Coffee Golden Rule blend is donated to the program.
Thursday March 3 -Saturday March 12
Johnston Street Building
35 Johnston Street