An exhibition featuring work by Anindilyakwa artists and designers has reignited national interest in Indigenous fashion.
Victoria’s highly-regarded Bendigo Gallery acquired $10,000 worth of works from Anindilyakwa Arts 2018 and 2019 collections, including ghost net baskets, bush dyed textiles, bush string bags, and handmade and handwoven fashion, for an exhibition called Piinpi.
Artists such as Maicie Lalara seamlessly combine traditional techniques with contemporary takes, which they call “both ways” – the old ways and new ways.
Incredibly, the Bendigo Gallery exhibition is the first major survey of contemporary Indigenous Australian fashion to be undertaken in the country.
Piinpi, which runs until January 17, has caused something of a sensation in the fashion world.
The gallery says: “It sheds light on a growing industry, which is blossoming and set to become Australia’s major fashion movement.”
After watching a virtual run-through of the exhibition, Maicie says of an outfit she made in collaboration with fellow Traditional Owner and artist Annabel Amagula: “The colours, the greys, and blacks, it’s holding the colour like the manganese and the fire.
“It’s natural, it’s bush dye – the leaves hold the black colour from the land.”
The sari silk in the outfit comes from women in a self-help program in India.
“I mix it up with the bush dye to hold the stories from our land and our ancestors’ spirit and vision.”
In the meantime, Anindilyakwa Arts 2020 collection was launched at the Alyangula art gallery to an impressed audience of VIP guests, including NT Arts Minster Chansey Paech, who described the artists’ fashion runway performance and collection as “world class and of high quality worthy of national acclaim”.
The collection will feature on the 2020 Aboriginal Art Fair Fashion Show runway From Country to Couture in Darwin on December 3 and in Melbourne in January.