Saturday, 28 June 2008

Local abundance.

Three small stories.
Well 33 on the Canning Stock route. Kunnawaritji, this remote community, recently held a gathering of womrn to further develop the Canning Stock Route Project. Grass basketry was on offer as a diversion from painting. Local grass was harvested from the dry dune country. However the women did source and use discarded meat pie tins as bases for their baskets.
At the well itself, there is a large water hole thickly banded with a type of juncus, a long narrow pliable leaf. This would be a sustainable basketry material as it could be cut off with a knife at the base rather than pulled as the grass is.
After four days making there was a colourful collection of baskets using the holed meat pie tins as bases.
Further south in the wheatbelt, the source of fodder, the Nyoongar commumity of Badjalling held a small festival.
This is quite nearby Joyce Winsleys country.
i hoped the women may be intersted in fodder.However it was the young people who cut the strings on the bale of meadow hay and spent the day making grass manguries, fibre circles wrapped with recycled textiles.
In time perhaps some of the local women will be drawn to making fibre craft works from their abundant supply of sustainable materials.
Following Badjalling a group of indigenous women from Carnavon have established themselves as basketmakers. They have been collecting grasses from the land, grass which is tough and quite difficult to access.
Carnavon is bananas, enormous plantations line the banks of the Gasgoyne river where it enters the sea.
For this group of women to use the trunks of banana palms seemed such an obvious solution.
So the trunks were collected and dissected longways into quarters. These were dried over 3 months or so. Then during a weeks workshop the women made baskets and fibre sculpture with the dampened strips of banana fibre. It is soft and malleable and a pleasure to handle. Wool and recycled textiles were used for sttitching, weaving etc.
It is a sustainable and local material.
These three events show how I am very gradually trying to encourage use of sustainable fibre and recycled materials.
Previous to each of these events I held a workshop in Hobart where we also used fodder, the women involved had great fun for 4 days and eagerly divvied up the leftovers to carry home.