Weavers of the Bundjalung Nation
‘They wove bags of grass and also made others of string twisted from the bark of a hibiscus, which grows plentifully along the banks of the creeks. The women stripped the bark and soaked it for three days and chewed it to make it flexible before twisting it into string. This string was used for fishing lines, and for making bags which have a pretty twisted stitch…’ – Mary Bundock, Notes on the Richmond River Blacks, Kyogle & District Historical Society Inc, 1897.
In 2021, Arts Northern Rivers with funding from the Indigenous Languages and Arts Program, will be working to document weaving techniques of the Bundjalung Nation through interviews with Aboriginal weavers, complimented by high quality photographs and featured in a final publication Weavers Of The Bundjalung Nation.
Informed by successful weaving workshops delivered by Arts Northern Rivers in 2019, five local weavers were engaged to develop a program with the aim of sharing weaving techniques with Aboriginal communities across the Bundjalung region. The workshops were conducted in Lismore, Evans Head and Grafton, bringing together participants from diverse backgrounds to share culture, tell stories and create a culturally safe environment to conduct this activity. The workshops delivered some important outcomes and the women weavers developed a strong bond that continues to develop.
Arts Northern Rivers aims to continue this legacy, delivering a book project that will ensure weaving techniques and stories will be available for future generations.
The Weaving Of The Bundjalung Nation book will document weaving techniques specific to the Bundjalung region, record stories of elders, research historical and archival material and record traditional plant species and harvesting techniques from across the Bundjalung region.
The book project will bring these stories to life with Indigenous writers and feature an introduction by Miles Franklin Award winner Melissa Lucashenko.
Internationally renowned photographers Brian Hodges and Kate Holmes will work with elders and weavers to professionally capture the world of Bundjalung plants, people, culture and country to be interwoven into the book. Both photographers have worked with Arts Northern Rivers on previous projects including; Our Way Stories (a photographic book featuring 10 Bundjalung Elders and their life stories) and Because of Her We Can (photographic portraits of aunties from Cabbage Tree Island). We will also engage a young Indigenous person to be mentored by our photographers throughout the project.
Image Credit: Bundjalung Weaving Project, Kate Holmes, 2019.