Fibre Art

Aboriginal Australian and fibre Objects have a long history down the road. It is believed that it was used for ceremonial purposes and a lot has been taken from Dreamtime. It is more of an “element of ceremony” to the people of Rembarrnga of Central Arnhem Land. They participate in the celebration of these ceremonies by making an animal-shaped figure using a paperbark from Melaleuca quinquenervia Plant or grass stitching them with a string of the same bark or any other binding fibre.

Figures from central and western Arnhem Land called “Djondjon or djawurn-djawurn “have a very similar construction technique, but generally human-shaped figures. They soon got considered as “Contemporary Art” as various new innovation were seen in the fibre objects.

Up until the end of the 20th Century, aboriginal fibre art was originally considered as a “Craft”. However, around the 1970s, fibre art started to penetrate the Fine Art market.

It took so long to change the perception of people to accept fibre Work Art as a Fine Art category until it was exhibited in several Exhibitions including Maningrida, The Language of Weaving (1989), Spinifex Runner (1999) & Twined Together (2005) and the most prestigious award that it backed was the National Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Art Award (NATSIAA). Seeing its phenomenal growth as Fine Art, the Australian Government and Museums such as Museum of Contemporary Art in Sydney and the Queensland Art Gallery in Brisbane started to exhibiting and supporting the artists making Fibre Art.

An extraordinary example of contemporary fibre art is from Tjanpi Desert Weavers. Here is their statement: “We are a social enterprise (not for profit) of the Ngaanyatjarra Pitjatjantjara Yankunytjatjara (NPY) Women’s Council, working with women in the remote Central and Western deserts who earn an income from contemporary fibre art”.