Woven Furniture

Woven Furniture

Aunty Ellen Trevorrow, Ngarrindjerri weaver, amongst her fishtrap lightshades at Koskela

Posted by Jeremy Eccles | 31.08.19

Dates: 28.08.19 : 18.09.19
Location: Dunning Street, Rosebery, Sydney

Koskela, one of Australia’s leading furniture and design brands, is presenting Ngalya, celebrating the 10th anniversary of Koskela’s social impact projects working with Australia’s First Nations People. Koskela has opened an exhibition including a new collection of lighting designs in collaboration with five new Aboriginal art centres and its first from the Torres Strait. The Ngalya Collection is on show at Koskela's unvarnished warehouse in Rosebery from this weekend, before travelling to UniSA's SASA Gallery in Hindley Street, Adelaide as part of TARNANTHI 2019, that city’s Festival of Contemporary Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Art this October.

Co-Founder of Koskela, Sasha Titchkosky said: “Koskela believes that great design can be used to effect social change, and has a firm belief that Australia’s unique Indigenous cultures need to be celebrated and acknowledged. We are proud of the many collaborations we have worked on in the past 10 years and excited to present our anniversary Collection - Ngalya - highlighting the incredible innovation & contemporary transformations taking place in Indigenous fibre arts and cultures across Australia.”

Ngalya is a Sydney Dharug word meaning ‘both’ or 'together' and the collection sees Koskela collaborate with six art centres - Bula’Bula Arts, Durrmu Arts, Milingimbi Art and Culture, Moa Arts, Ngarrindjeri Cultural Weavers, and Tjanpi Desert Weavers. Each centre or collective has drawn on culturally important objects and design features in the development of beautiful new installations and lighting products. Designed for both commercial and residential settings, the pieces in the exhibition can be purchased by the general public, and many of the larger pieces will be suited to workplaces, architects and public buildings. Ngalya aims to provide Indigenous weavers with an additional income for their work while maintaining their traditional practices and to introduce new and compelling ‘art products’ into contemporary interiors.

2019 marks a decade since Koskela first began working with, and learning from, the weavers of Elcho Island Arts on Yuta Badayala (In a New Light). Ngalya celebrates and expands this spirit of collaboration and knowledge exchange through the development of exquisite new woven forms. Ngalya seeks to illuminate these profound objects, allowing them to be seen anew. All the products in Ngalya are woven ‘on Country’, on the site of each artist’s ancestral land and place of residence, and are handwoven using locally harvested plant fibres and natural, hand-made dyes. The collection, preparation and weaving of the fibres are all labour-intensive processes: harvesting the plants, driving the boat, stripping the leaves, digging up and peeling the roots for dye, soaking the leaves, boiling the pot, drying the fibres all happens before the weaving commences, and are an integral part of production and maintains cultural practices.

Koskela is deeply committed to using their design and production skills to empower Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander artists and makers. It facilitates collaborations between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander-owned art centres and Koskela's own design team, to create new contemporary design products and concepts in domestic and commercial environments. These projects generate an alternative income source, helping artists to continue to live a life they have chosen to lead and maintain their traditional practices. Koskela has worked with leading Australian & International corporations, as well as architects and design firms with clients ranging from NAB and Westpac, to NOMA restaurant in Copenhagen and Qantas’ headquarters in Sydney. Koskela is a registered member of the Indigenous Art Code, which means it's committed to preserving and promoting ethical trade in Indigenous art, as well as Supply Nation, whose mission is to facilitate, encourage and promote business between government and corporate Australia and Indigenous-owned businesses.

It's no coincidence that all the artists involved in Ngalya are women. Weaving is women's business. Though of course, an artist like Regina Wilson from Peppiminarti has taken the detailed skills developed as a weaver and converted them to stunning paintings. At Koskela, she's back to weaving. In the deserts further south, the Tjanpi Weavers have clearly been challenged to move on from their familiar woven figures to create very idiosyncratic designs on coolamon frames supplied by the Sydney company. And discovering a largely undiscovered weaving tradition on the remote Moa Island in the Torres Strait has produced the featured item of the exhibition – a tripartite series of woven panels based on the Taimer – Stingray, both the Eagle Ray and the smaller Blue Spotted Stingray. And they're in natural materials, not the ghastly ghost nets that infest their islands and seas.

From the Coorong in South Australia, Aunty Ellen Trevorrow has lead a team that has converted the Kuyitaipari - fish trap – form that we're familiar with from other Ngarrindjerri weavers such as Yvonne Koolmatrie into organic vessels for light. Thirty-seven years of experience has gone into this work, she tells me; and it required a bit of scaling down from the whale that the team's been working on, which will also appear at this year's Tarnanthi Festival. And Trevorrow's teaching has born fruit too - Sonya Rankine, who learned the craft from her, has been named the winner of this year's Don Dunstan Foundation Our Mob Emerging Artist Prize in Adelaide for her basket weaving.

Coincidentally, another major fibre exhibition is currently on in the USA, at the Kluge Ruhe Museum at the University of Virginia. It opened its newest display of works from the permanent collection in July, an exhibition of fibre art from Gapuwiyak, Arnhemland. These baskets, dilly bags, mats, sculptures and necklaces are a recent gift to the museum by anthropologist Louise Hamby, who has undertaken fieldwork and research with artists of Gapuwiyak for more than 30 years.

URL: https://koskela.com.au/blogs/news/ngalya

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Woven Furniture

In Ramingining, batjbarra (scoops) are woven to gather Rarrgi/Rakayi (water chestnuts). Here, they've been reinterpreted, illuminated and suspendedby women weavers at Bula'Bula Arts

Woven Furniture

Paula Savage from Moa Arts in the Torres Strait, but not so comfortable up a ladder amidst her woven stingray construction


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