Art Is Fashionable

Art Is Fashionable

Waringarri queen, Peggy Griffiths models her own creation

Posted by Jeremy Eccles | 06.08.20

Gallery: Darwin Aboriginal Art Fair

The inaugural National Indigenous Fashion Awards were handed out last night in Darwin (ie online) courtesy of the Darwin Aboriginal Art Fair (also online), which has been promoting this sub-branch of First Nations art for a few years now. And the key take Aboriginal Art Directory has is that almost all the prizes went to remote art-makers translating their imagination and skills into a different, more commercial field.

33 First Nations fashion creatives (as reported earlier) were nominated from across the country, and prizes were awarded in six categories:

And the winners are;
Peggy Griffiths, the matriarch of the Waringarri Art Centre in Kununurra, for the Cultural Adornment and Wearable Art Award

Kieren Karritpul, the young Merrepen Art Centre artist and worker, for the Textile Design Award

Maara Collective X Bula’bula Arts in Ramingining, for the Community Collaboration Award

Bede Tungutaalum, 50-year veteran of Tiwi art and design, for the Special Recognition Award

Julie Shaw again – for she's the designer behind Maara Collective - for the Fashion Design Award

Ninti One, for the Environmental and Social Contribution Award

Yuwaalaraay designer, Julie Shaw from Lightning Ridge, collaborated with three Yolngu master weavers from the Bula’bula Art Centre in Arnhemland - Mary Dhapalany, Evonne Munuyngu and Margaret Malibirr to develop wide-brimmed hats, bags and belts to enhance her Maara Collective designs. The word maara translates as 'hands' in both Yuwaalaraay and Gamilaraay language groups.

The inimitable Mirawoong artist, Peggy Griffiths's 'Legacy Dress' is made up of 10 tiers of fabric, hand-block-printed by local textile artists, handpainted by herself, and some left plain. Designs include the jilinybeng, or bush cucumber, and boab nuts. Torres Strait designer, Grace Lillian Lee worked on the design with Griffiths. Bendigo Art Gallery has acquired the 'Legacy Dress', and it will appear in the upcoming exhibition, 'Piinpi: Contemporary Indigenous Fashion', opening on 5th September.

Former NATSIAA newcomer winner Kieren Karritpul specialises in multi-layered designs. Starting with the screenprinting of his intricate patterns, he then overlays additional lino prints or freehand designs on the top, bringing depth and movement to his fashion.

Tiwi Design celebrates its 50th anniversary this year, so it's only appropriate that its co-founder, Bede Tungutalum, is acknowledged with an award for his pioneering work in Indigenous textiles. His first a set of linen place mats won the Good Design Award in 1970 from the Industrial Design Council of Australia.

Ninti One, the social research organisation won for its report, 'Intellectual Property in PNG’s Creative and Cultural Industries'. They based their findings – which have relevance in Indigenous Australia too, on the revelation that you can tell where someone’s from in PNG by the colours and patterns and shapes in the bilums. Their identity is literally woven into the strings.


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Contact Details

Gallery: Darwin Aboriginal Art Fair
Contact: Claire Summers
Telephone: +61 413 900 785


Art Is Fashionable

Yuwaalaraay designer, Julie Shaw, winner of a shre of two awards at NIFA

Art Is Fashionable

The woven headwear that Bula'Bula artists contributed to the Maara Collective's fashion win


Where is the exhibition?
Further Research

Exhibition Archive