Weaving Our Lives Together

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.

Donna Ditchfield, one of the camp supervisors, and Moorambilla girls

Donna Ditchfield, one of the camp supervisors, and Moorambilla girls

Georgie Saunders and Kiara Singh check in at Camp Cypress

Georgie Saunders and Kiara Singh check in at Camp Cypress

Grace Robinson from Coonamble brings her unicorn to Camp Cypress

Grace Robinson from Coonamble brings her unicorn to Camp Cypress

Moisha Lord helps Operations Manager jacqui Smith register Moorambilla girls

Moisha Lord helps Operations Manager Jacqui Smith register Moorambilla girls

Camp Manager Dot Thompson signs in Opal Trumper

Camp Manager Dot Thompson signs in Opal Trumper

Taylor Donnelly waits to be checked in at Camp Cypress, Baradine

Taylor Donnelly waits to be checked in at Camp Cypress, Baradine

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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.

Moorambilla girls walk to Baradine Town Hall

Moorambilla girls walk to Baradine Town Hall

Artistic Director Michelle Leonard waits for the girls to arrive at Baradine Town Hall

Artistic Director Michelle Leonard waits for the Moorambilla girls to arrive at Baradine Town Hall

“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.

Mary Kennedy, Barbara Stanley and Fiona Fagan

Mary Kennedy, Barbara Stanley and Fiona Fagan

Weaving 3 Weaving

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.

Charlie Davis enjoys some fishnet weaving

Charlie Davis enjoys some fishnet weaving

Elijah Ferguson tries out weaving

Elijah Ferguson tries out weaving

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Naki Afa tries his hand at weaving

Naki Afa tries his hand at weaving

Khynan Samuelsson tries his hand at weaving

Khynan Samuelsson tries his hand at weaving

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.”

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“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.”

Barbara Stanley cuts the fabric

Barbara Stanley cuts the fabric

Mary Kennedy using chain stitch

Mary Kennedy using chain stitch

Fiona Fagan helps to bring the nets together

Fiona Fagan weaves the nets together

Text and photography: Lliane Clarke

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2 thoughts on “Weaving Our Lives Together

  1. So great to see what the kids are up to each day…especially when they’re so far from home! What a brilliant opportunity for them all to be working with so many talented people and creating something special together! LOVE the blog – well written. THANK YOU, thank you, thankyou…

  2. I found out about this great camp through a little friend who attended . What a great opportunity for kids living in remote areas. I love the way you have included some indigenous craft ideas as well. Music and craft are very heeling and inspiring for children. Well done to all organisers and volunteers. Wish I could see the concert.

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