716 craft·design   ISSN:1835-1832
Issue 023 August 2007
716 craft·design news is published monthly by Craft Australia.
Artist - Elaine Moncrieff

Above: Artist - Elaine Moncrieff, City Lights, 2006
Banner images: (left to right) Artist - Elaine Moncrieff Untitled basket, 2006; Artist - Marjorie Winmar Untitled basket, 2006

Cross Country

Cross Country is a unique coalition between nine remote Aboriginal art centres and communities and FORM, the Perth-based cultural organisation. Around 70 acclaimed artists are participating in this ambitious project that stretches from Wiluna to Bililuna; the communities marking each end of the Canning Stock Route. Multilingual and multicultural, Cross Country encompasses six core languages spoken across nine communities.
» Cross Country by Elisha Buttler

Qld's Indigenous art and craft

Artisan idea:skill:product has recently undertaken a major program celebrating the works of Australian Indigenous artists. Queensland's Indigenous art and craft, written by Eliza Tee, gives an overview of contemporary Indigenous craft design practice in Queensland and sets the context for developing the shows at Artisan.
»  Queensland's Indigenous art and craft by Eliza Tee

Indigenous craft and design

Object Gallery has showcased Indigenous craft and design consistently for more than four decades. Brian Parkes, Associate Director, presents an overview of past exhibitions and future plans.
»  Object Gallery and Indigenous craft and design by Brian Parkes


Directions from Perth. Go east 600 kms to Kalgoorlie, 360 km north to Leonora and then 120 km east. Laverton is on the western edge of the Great Victoria Desert and is the last fuel stop before Docker River.

Artsource has been running a program dedicated to working with Indigenous artists specifically about professional development since 2003. Jude van der Merwe, Executive Director and Glenn Pilkington, Manager Regional + Indigenous Program, share their stories from the region.
»  Artsource and its Regional + Indigenous Program

Darwin Aboriginal Art Fair

The art of fibre is shared by many artists across the Top End and Central Australia. In Arnhem Land, the art of fibre has a long history that goes back to prehistoric times.

Twenty community based arts centres from Arnhem Land, Kimberley region and Central Australia will present a wide range of artists and art forms at the inaugural Darwin Aboriginal Art Fair in August, 2007.
»  Darwin Aboriginal Art Fair by Apolline Kohen

Artist - Anniebell Marrngamarrnga, Yawkyawk, 2007 Photograph - Maningrida Arts & Culture

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Archive of past 716 issues

Indigenous craft

Regional · National · International
In this issue of 716 craft·design online news, Craft Australia focuses on Australian Indigenous contemporary craft·design practice.

As the advocates for the contemporary craft sector, Craft Australia has a long tradition of supporting and promoting contemporary Indigenous craft practice nationally and internationally. Many significant articles about the early Indigenous craft movement can be read in issues of Craft Australia Magazine dating back as early as 1970.

Programs in this field were formalised by a report commissioned by Craft Australia and prepared by Doreen Mellor in 1995 . The report included national research on the position of Australian Indigenous contemporary craft·design practice with recommendations for Craft Australia's future programs.

Outcomes implemented as a result of this report included greater inclusion of contemporary Indigenous craft in international exhibitions undertaken by Craft Australia at the time. These included the exhibition, Origins and New Perspectives, Contemporary Australian Textiles curated by Glenda King and presented in 2000 at the Lodz Textile Triennial in Poland.

Previous to this Craft Australia presented craft work by Ernabella, Maruku and Yuendumu artists at major international craft fairs in the USA such as Sculpture Objects and Functional Art (SOFA) in Chicago.

These international promotional programs were key exposure points for Indigenous contemporary craft·design practice in the international market, a market that has grown consistently in the ensuing years.

These initial steps to promote and make more visible the Australian Indigenous contemporary craft·design sector has continued as a priority area for Craft Australia and recently the organisation managed a major conference titled Selling Yarns: Australian Indigenous Textiles and good business in the 21st century.

The conference was held in 2006 in conjunction with the NATSIAA, National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Arts Awards, in Darwin and focused specifically on current trends and new developments towards greater cultural and economic sustainability in the Indigenous contemporary craft sector.

The conference was very successful in its focus and outcomes and it attracted many Indigenous artists as participants and presenters.

A feature of the Selling Yarns conference was the dynamic position of practice in this field. It was observed, however, that information about the vitality of the sector was not reaching the broader general public's attention. The implications of this impediment have a marked impact on the economic sustainability of craft practice and the cultural continuity of some of these practices. Many of us will be familiar with the Musee de Quai Branly which opened in Paris last year and features outstanding Australian Indigenous visual art works. However fewer of us would be aware of the breadth and vibrancy of contemporary indigenous craft and design practice.

This special issue of 716 craft·design online news goes some way to redress this point. It includes articles about exhibitions and programs developed by key agencies such as the network of Australian Craft and Design Centres, ACDC, Indigenous art centres, promotional and public art agencies, which are developing programs to increase the visibility of Australian Indigenous artists. So I urge you to take the time to read the many stories on offer. More

Artist - Abe Muriata

Abe Muriata
The Woven Purpose, 2005
Artisan Gallery
Photgraph: A Higgins

Art and craft centres

Desart is the Association of Central Australian Aboriginal Art and Craft Centres. Desart member Art Centres are owned and managed by Aboriginal people in their own communities.

The peak advocacy and support agency for aboriginal artists and art centres located in the regions of Arnhem Land, Darwin and Katherine, Kimberley and Tiwi Islands.

Tandanya facilitates participation and fosters interaction with and an understanding of Australian and Torres Strait Islander peoples, arts and cultures.

Top End Arts
Working with organisations across the whole Top End, promoting the arts locally, nationally and internationally and fostering best-practice arts marketing and audience development skills.

Artback NT Arts Touring is the official arts touring organisation for touring visual and performing arts within the Northern Territory and for travelling NT arts nationally and internationally.

2007 Year of Design

 » Calendar of events
 » Exhibition Design + Wood
 » Announcement
   VIVID 2007 winners (pdf)
   Poster Annual winner


Gumbaya is singing, she is singing a basket into life, women join in the song, lifting their colourful woven goannas and Kuka baskets above their heads, dancing sitting down. Nalda Searles writes about the Jigalong project.

Nomad Art Darwin

In March 2006 six artists, two printmakers, a photographer and a botanical scientist journeyed to Nauiyu on the Daly River, 230 kilometres southwest of Darwin. Making new connections

Tiwi Art

Tiwi Art is a living, evolving expression of Tiwi culture and contains many elements relating to traditions and ceremonies. More


Tjanpi is the Aboriginal women's basket weaving project and enterprise which started in the Central Western Desert region of Australia. More

Beanies, baskets & bushtucker

A unique opportunity to spend time with traditional Pitjantjatjara women and share their skill and knowledge as internationally renowned weavers and spinners. More

Beanie Festival

Every beanie destined for the Festival is a creative journey for its maker that begins with an idea and some fibre or yarn. Their makers send them across land and sea to reach the Festival in Alice Springs each winter. Some beanies will travel the globe, change hands and heads, be lost and found, loved and laughed at.

Congratulations to the 2007 competition winners, Soosie Jobson, Shaz Harrison, Yilpi Adamson, Kerry Elsome, Joan Stanley, Gabrielle Powell and Lisa Waller. Visit the Beanie Festival website to see who were the recipients of the special categories and view this year's magnificant array of beanies.

Merrima Design

Merrima Design is an association of Indigenous designers working together on projects engaging Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander contexts in Australia. Visit website

Nyukana Baker

Nyukana Baker's Jar, 2004 was acquired by the Art Gallery of South Australia through the newly established Ed and Sue Tweddel Fund for South Australian Contemporary Art 2005. More


24th Telstra National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Art Award (NATSIAA), Award and Opening Night on Friday, 10th August at 6:30pm The event will be held at the Northern Territory Museum and Art Gallery, Bullocky Point in Darwin

The NATSIAA showcases up-to-date developments in contemporary Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander art and attracts a range of Indigenous artists from all parts of the country. Website

Indigenous Business Australia

Indigenous Business Australia (IBA) plays an important role in creating opportunities for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander individuals and communities to build assets and wealth. The Selling Yarns bursary assistance program was kindly sponsored by IBA.

Visit the IBA website or download pdf invite Information sheet

Touring exhibition

The National Gallery of Australia in Canberra will receive funds to develop and tour The National Indigenous Art Triennial exhibition, featuring work produced over the last three years by 30 of Australia's most innovative Indigenous artists. Media release

Reconciliation Action Plan

The Australia Council for the Arts affirms its committment to the development of a Reconciliation Action Plan by 30 December 2007. Australia Council statement


The federal government has conducted a Senate Committee Inquiry in Australia's Indigenous visual arts and craft sector. Visit Parliament of Australia Senate website to view the submissions received, public hearings and transcripts and the report outlining the recommendations.

NAVA asks

Should Indigenous Secret Sacred Material be Sold? Members of the Reference Group for the Indigenous Australian Art Commercial Code of Conduct (the Code) called on auction houses dealing in Aboriginal art to prove themselves ethical and responsible members of the Australian art industry. NAVA news