A highly-regarded art gallery in Victoria has bought an Indigenous-designed fashion collection from female artists and designers on Groote Eylandt.
The Bendigo Art Gallery originally planned only to borrow the clothes and jewellery for a major two-month exhibition of First Nations fashion entitled Piinpi.
But after seeing the Groote range of jewellery and clothes, the gallery bought the whole collection.
Designers from the Anindilyakwa Art Centre meld traditional and contemporary elements to create a striking range, which includes earrings, necklaces and dresses.
Some of the clothing is contemporary but has been bush dyed with plants the artists use to traditionally dye plant fibres for baskets.
Some of the stunning, bespoke garments feature recycled sari silk , from the Stitching Project, a “sister” women’s social enterprise in India.
The Anindilyakwa women were enchanted by what they saw in the Darwin Aboriginal Art Fairs annual fashion show, From Country to Courture, in 2017 and said: “We want to do that.”
“They have gone from an idea to the catwalk in a few years,” says Anindilyakwa Art Centre coordinator Aly de Groot.
One of the designers, Anabelle Anagula, says her late mother came to her in a dream and told her how to design one of the dresses.
The Piinpi exhibition, which is being staged in Bendigo in October and November, is the first major show of contemporary Indigenous fashion in Australia.
Piinpi is an Indigenous Cape York Peninsula word meaning “seasonal changes” and inferring the regeneration of country.