Stand by, the girls are rolling in! Camp Cypress turns over to girl power – pink, light blue, skipping, pony tails, hair clips and even unicorns take up residence! Over 70 girls are keen as mustard to get singing and get moving. The girls’ program is similar to the boys, and they too will have the benefit of intense music tuition by Artistic Director Michelle Leonard, and new Australian choral music written just for them.
One of the activities both the boys and girls love is the Indigenous weaving workshops led by texile artist and author Fiona Fagan, and Barbara Stanley and Mary Kennedy, Moorambilla Visual Artists-in-Residence from the Ngemba Wailwan Artist Collective in Warren.
“We are using a basic coiling and twinning technique, which Indigenous people have used for centuries,” explains Mary. “This creates a strong rope that can then be used to make baskets, or for holding spears or canoes together and for fishing traps and nets, which is what we are creating,
“It’s a simple technique – using a reverse twist which holds and locks in. It’s perfect for children and they get a fast result. We are weaving huge fishing nets, to hang from the massive ceiling in the pavillion at the Moorambilla Gala Concert in Coonamble.”
“At Ngemba Wailwan Artists we are grateful for the support that we have to be able to encourage children to grasp their Indigenous heritage,” says Mary.
Barbara Stanley is a Wiradjuri woman from Wellington, NSW, who moved to Warren 17 years ago. Barbara explains the basic weaving colours being used this year. “We are using blue to represent the water, white for the light on the water, orange ochre for the fire element, and black for Indigenous people.”
“It is a sophisticated minimal design concept,” says Fiona. “We needed something that would be applicable on a large scale that could be used and adapted for the children to work on and use.”
The warp of the net – the vertical drops – is made from fabric using chain knitting. The weft – the horizontal connections – is made using the twisted rope and is threaded through the chain knitting to create a net effect.
Barbara says both the Moorambilla girls and boys this year were excellent learners of the techniques shown. “They both picked it up quickly, and wanted to do more. The boys liked that you can use this technique to make the end of a stock whip, using butcher’s twine or fine leather, and the girls today were making head pieces, wrist bands and funky fabric jewellery. They also liked the idea of making fish nets for themselves to use at home.”
“Weaving in the remarkable Baradine Memorial Hall is such a wonderful way for the children to connect with this region’s heritage and with each other,” says Artistic Director Michelle Leonard. “Seeing the joy on the children’s faces when they successfully complete their works is just wonderful – this typifies what Moorambilla is all about – a true celebration of all things creative. I can’t wait to see all these artforms culminate at the festival.”
Text and photography: Lliane Clarke