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Weaving describes an action, and it also connotes a tradition imbued with cultural heritage. Distinctively and regionally diverse, the Indigenous fibre art of Australia is nonetheless expressive of a community of practice, unified by the amazing ability of practitioners to transform raw materials into creative expressions of story and place.
Connected to women’s traditional knowledge of plant materials and harvesting, fibre art is inextricably linked with the seasonal availability of resources and the transformation of raw materials into dyes, yarn and threads.
The works, and their creators, perform a most special mixture of artistry and alchemy.
Accordingly, The Alchemists showcases the recent work of artists and art centres from Anindilyakwa, Bula’ bula, Elcho Island, Merrepen and Maningrida in the Northern Territory, Milingimbi and Gapuwiyak in East Arnhem Land, Pormpuraaw Art Centre in Cape York, Baluk Arts in the Mornington Peninsula, and closer to home, Martumili Artists in the Pilbara. The exhibition also features the work of Tasmanian artist Vicki West, Cairns-based artist Grace Lillian Lee and Janine McCaulley Bott of Western Australia.
The exhibition offers a survey of weaving as an artistic practice which, while remaining connected to its traditional reliance on found or natural materials, is also continually evolving. With The Alchemists, we have a fascinating opportunity to appreciate how contemporary fibre art is shaped by economic and ecological influences, by change and the adoption of new methods and new materials, which are engaged in specialised and localised ways.