Building on the traditions of using natural fibres to create objects for medicinal, ceremonial and daily use, the Tjanpi – or ‘dry grass’ – Weavers are women who come together to visit sacred sites and traditional homelands, hunt and gather food for their families and teach their children about country while collecting grasses to sculpt and weave.
Students will work directly with the accomplished artists to learn new techniques and expand upon their own diverse disciplines in painting, drawing, music, sculpture and spatial practice as well as film and television.
Tiriki Onus, Lecturer in Indigenous Knowledge and Cultural Practices at the Wilin Centre for Indigenous Arts and Cultural Development, says the masterclasses are a precious experience for budding artists.
“Too often there is a false distinction drawn between craft and fine art.
The women from the Tjanpi Desert Weavers are contemporary fine artists, as well as seasoned teachers, performers and cultural ambassadors who not only maintain traditions within their own art form but also innovate upon them. We are incredibly lucky to be facilitating their presentation of masterclasses at the Wilin Centre.”
Today there are over 400 women across 28 communities making baskets and sculptures out of grass. Working with fibre in this way is firmly embedded in Western and Central Desert Indigenous culture.
With the project Before They Pass Away, the photographer Jimmy Nelson spent three years, from 2010 to 2013, to visit the endangered tribes around the world, to deliver a poignant testimony to a disappearing part of human history.
A vibrant photographic tribute that reveals beautiful portraits of more than 35 tribes, ethnic groups and folklore, from Mongolia to New Zealand through Russia, Papua New Guinea, Kenya or Ethiopia.
The project has also been published in the book Before They Pass Away.
The Brisbane Lions (formerly Fitzroy) boast a rich Indigenous history born largely from their foundation club Fitzroy, who were believed to be the Victorian Football League pioneers in terms of racial tolerance.
In fact, Fitzroy’s Joe Johnson (1883-1934) became the VFL’s first ever Aboriginal player when he lined up for the Roys against Carlton in Round 1 of 1904.
Johnson went on to play 55 games in three seasons with the Club, including the 1904 and 1905 premiership sides.
Another notable Indigenous player from Fitzroy’s history was Pastor Doug Nicholls, who represented the Club in 53 games from 1932-37.
Nicholls twice represented Victoria and received a number of other VFL honours, before devoting his time as a Minister of Christ following his retirement.
He later became the first Aboriginal to receive an MBE in 1957, was the first to receive a knighthood in 1972, and was appointed Governor of South Australia in 1976.
In more recent years, the Club has celebrated some fine Indigenous players – including Chris Johnson (Fitzroy/Lions), Darryl White (Bears/Lions), and Michael McLean (Bears/Lions) – who all form part of the Indigenous Team of the Century.
After starting his VFL career with Footscray, McLean headed to Brisbane where he played a total of 88 games with the Bears/Lions.
He is also a former Captain and Coach of the Indigenous All-Stars team, and spent a further two seasons as an Assistant Coach at the Lions in 1999 and 2000.ic
White and Johnson, meanwhile, sit among the Club’s all-time games leaders with 268 and 264 senior matches respectively.
The pair shares an enviable record as having won the most premierships (three) of any Indigenous player in the history of the game.
Photo: Proud Kaurna man Stephen Gadlabarti Goldsmith in traditional face paint. (Supplied: Trentino Prior).
“Kulurdu marni ngathaitya.”That’s Stephen Gadlabarti Goldsmith’s favourite saying in Kaurna language, and it translates in English to “[that] sounds good to me”.
Mr Goldsmith grew up believing he was Narungga, due to his mother’s family history of being held at the Point Pearce Mission and Aboriginal Station on South Australia’s Yorke Peninsula.
“My mother was probably the first generation to move off the mission and to come back and live in the Adelaide area,” he said.
But when Mr Goldsmith was told he was Kaurna, he began a search to learn more about his cultural heritage and the language of his people.
Kaurna place names:
Tartanyagga – Male red kangaroo rock (Adelaide south of the Torrens); Karrawirra Pari – Redgum forest river (River Torrens); Ngangkiparingga – Woman river place (Onkaparinga River); Pathawilya – Swamp gum foliage (Glenelg); Kauwantila – In the north (Cowandilla); Kangkarrila – Shepherding place (Kangarilla); Nurlungga – Bend place (Horseshoe Bend on Onkaparinga River); Yartapuulti – Land of sleep/death (Port Adelaide.)
“It was like being told you were an adopted child,” he said. The Kaurna people lived in the Adelaide Hills and plains area prior to European colonisation.
Early work was done to record the Kaurna language by several colonists, but the extensive documentation by German missionaries Clamor Schumann and Christian Teichelmann is said to have saved it from extinction.
The missionaries ran a Kaurna language school from 1840 till 1846.They recorded about 2,000 words and 200 sentences before their work was stopped by governor George Grey, who forbade the use of the language in 1846.
And it wasn’t until the 1980s, when the German missionaries’ notes were discovered, that linguists went about reviving Kaurna.