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Fibre art by various Yolngu artists from Galiwin'ku

On Elcho Island, fibre art is still a prominent community activity. Ancient methods and techniques handed down from mother to daughter are still being practised today, with little change in methodology having taken place over the centuries. It is also common for male artists to incorporate woven fibres within their own works, such as Morning Star poles. 

Diligently, and mostly on foot, women collect raw materials from the bush and carry them back to their homes within the township of Galiwin’ku or to their outstations, usually situated along the coast outside the main community centre. The fibres are then treated and dyed and woven into baskets, mats, bags, fishing nets and other traditional and ceremonial objects. The methods employed have not changed with modern technology. The women’s tools are their hands, and their work is extremely labour-intensive. 

This important collection of Yolngu fibre art from Elcho Island brings together a variety of objects that have a common thread in terms of the materials used and the history of the objects, both oral and visual. This history provides a way in which to view some of the spiritual links with the sun, moon and stars. 

Judith Ryan