Saturday, October 22, 2016

Western Australian Aboriginal Fabric Lengths
ArtCloth

Marie-Therese Wisniowski

Introduction[1]
During the 1980s the teaching of batik to Aboriginal women and men was on the move from its original source at Ernabella to other aboriginal art centers as far afield as Western Australia.

Northern Australia.
Australians called it the “Top End”.

The spread of printed fabric lengths in Western Australia has been sporadic with the exception of Ngunga Designs, which originated when in 1989 Bruce Skewes conducted a six week screen-printing course for the Ngunga women’s group in Derby (Kimberley region).

Alice Ntjamarra: Cattle Egrets
Note: Alice and her sister belong to a group of 23 artists and craft workers at the Ngunga Women’s Design Centre.

In the same year, six women from Ngunga Design travelled to Bathurst Island in order to acquire design and printing techniques from the well-established Tiwi Designs. They returned determined to establish a retail outlet for their own designs. In 1991 a group of Tiwi screen-printers from Jilamara Arts & Crafts visited Ngunga and conducted a series of workshops on screen-printing and dyeing. Soon afterwards a small garage was converted into a shop which also supported Magabala Books - the first Aboriginal publishing house in Western Australia.

Warren Brim’s illustration from “Creatures of the Rainforest”, Magabala Books, 2005.
Linocut.
Courtesy of the Artist.

The Ngunga Women’s Group began to create designs that were peculiar to the Kimberly region, using enlivened motifs of plants, animals, shells and marine creatures with decorative effects of hatching and dots. Ngunga Designs have also used designs by established artists, such as Louis Karedada from Kalumburu. Jan Dayman was actively involved in furthering the design development by conducting regular workshops on printing techniques.

A short burst of activity in creating printed textiles occurred in a number of other Ngaanyatjarra women groups in Western Australia, namely in such places as Warakurna, Kalgoorlie and Tjirrkali. After producing screen-prints as part of the Healthway Fringe Camp Project in Kalgoorlie, Pantjiti Mary McLean had some of her drawings transferred to screen and marketed as fabric lengths by Gregory Tuck in Perth (Australia).

Warakurna Women experimented with block printing on cotton fabric, and at Tjirrkali they produced a series of hand-painted aprons that were exhibited at Indigenart.

Perhaps a more modern trend is to translate well-known artworks from Indigenous artists (such as Jimmy Pike) into the screen-print medium in order to created printed textiles for garments. For example, Stephen Culley and David Wroth of Desert Designs collaborated with Jimmy Pike in order to produce a range of dynamic fashion garments for a network of retail outlets.

Party dress - with a vivid design by Aboriginal artist Jimmy Pike - transformed into textiles under license by Desert Designs.
Courtesy Of Serendipity Patchwork.


Aboriginal Batik From Western Australia[1]

Painter: Janyka Ivy Nixon.
Title: Fabric Length (1993).
Technique: Batik On Cotton.
Size: 85 cm (width) x 211.5 cm (length).
Place: Fitzroy Crossing Batik Workshop, Western Australia.
Collection: National Gallery Of Victoria.

Painter: Jukuja Dolly Snell.
Title: Fabric Length (1993).
Technique: Batik On Cotton.
Size: 84.6 cm (width) x 187.5 cm (length).
Place: Fitzroy Crossing Batik Workshop, Western Australia.
Collection: National Gallery Of Victoria.

Painter: Jukuja Dolly Snell.
Title: Fabric Length (1994) – Detailed View.
Technique: Synthetic Polymer Paint On Cotton Duck.
Size: 45 cm (width) x 100 cm (length).
Place: Gregory Tuck Studio, Perth, Western Australia.
Collection: Available For Purchase.

Painter: Pantjiti Mary McLean.
Title: Mayi (1994) – Detailed View.
Technique: Screen-Print On Cotton.
Size: 150.5 cm (width) x 516.5 cm (length).
Place: Gregory Tuck Studio, Perth, Western Australia.
Collection: National Gallery Of Victoria.

Painter: Louis Karedada.
Title: Slates (1995) – Detailed View.
Technique: Screen-Print On Cotton.
Size: 116.2 cm (width) x 326 cm (length).
Place: Ngunga Designs, Derby, Western Australia.
Collection: National Gallery Of Victoria.


Reference:
[1] J. Ryan and R. Healy, Raiki Wara, National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne (1998).

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