Tag Archives: Australia

A Fascinating Recycling Weaving Project from Australia

Standard

This is one of those posts that is so odd – and slightly confusing – that I just had to copy it here!

Indigenous artists weave their magic with Spanish designer for NGV Triennial display

A Spanish designer’s collaboration with Indigenous artists in a remote Top End community has produced an unlikely and beautiful cross-cultural artwork on display at the NGV Triennial.

The piece, which combines ancient Indigenous weaving techniques with recycled materials of the modern world, is the work of Alvaro Catalán de Ocón and Yolngu weavers from Bula’bula Arts in Ramingining.  (I had to look it up!)

Ramingining is an Indigenous community in the Northern Territory, Australia, 560 km east of Darwin. It is on the edge of the Arafura Swamp in Arnhem Land. The population is approximately 800 people, though this fluctuates and there is a significant housing shortage.More at Wikipedia

“I basically do product design, but quite recently I have been combining this way of doing it with craft, and mainly weaving,” Mr Catalán de Ocón told ABC Radio Darwin‘s Liz Trevaskis from his studio in Barcelona.

With his PET Lamp project, Mr Catalán de Ocón travelled to five art centres in as many continents, using recycled bottles and local weaving techniques to create brightly coloured lamp shades.

But learning about the kinship systems in the East Arnhem Land community prompted him to break with tradition.

Where previous collaborations had produced thousands of lamp shades, this one produced just two woven together by eight local women using native plant materials and ancient techniques.

The resulting works are large, irregularly shaped weavings in luminous, earthen tones, woven together according to the women’s relationships to one another.

Project born from mission to creatively recycle

In 2011, Mr Catalán de Ocón was travelling through Colombia and became involved in an art project about rising levels of plastic waste in the Amazon River.

“They were interested in having my perspective as a product designer, and I thought about instead of recycling, reusing, because there was no infrastructure in those areas for recycling, it was about turning the object into something else,” he said.

The object in question was a PET bottle, which Mr Catalán de Ocón noted had a short shelf life compared to the time it took to decompose.

While he could not single-handedly fix the problem of plastic waste, he thought he could use intelligent product design to make a statement about it.

Drawing inspiration from the shape of a Japanese tea whisk, Mr Catalán de Ocón recognised a similarity between certain looms and the shape of a plastic bottle that had been cut to pieces.

“You have a knot, which is the screw top, and then you have the body of the bottle, which you can cut in strips, and that becomes like a loom you can weave onto,” he said.

Taking this logic a step further, the product designer realised the issue of mounting plastic waste and the art of weaving were both somewhat universal.

There are few crafts, he said, as ancient or widely practiced as textile weaving.

“So we turned it from a container into a lamp through the use of local craft, which was very strong in Colombia,” he said.

“It’s two realities which can mix together.”

He travelled from Colombia to Chile, Ethiopia and Japan, weaving lamp shades with disfigured plastic bottles and local designs.

In 2016, after being commissioned by the NGV to bring the project to Australia, he decided the project’s next location would be Ramingining.

A cross-cultural experience

Over six weeks, Mr Catalán de Ocón became embedded in the remote community, consulting and collaborating through long working days with the Bula’bula artists.

He likened the experience of living in the remote community (about three days’ drive from Darwin) to travelling back in time.

“Little by little, we managed to get into that world.

“We know we only really arrived in the very surface of it, but you realise how deep it is and how different it is — the way of understanding the land, the way of understanding life and time.”

While the designer had produced about 15,000 lamps in previous workshops, Mr Catalán de Ocón decided this time they would work towards just two.

“They were telling us their stories, we were going out to the bush to pick up the materials, doing the whole process so we could spend a lot of time together,” he said.

“At a certain point, each weaver did an individual piece and we started joining them together according to family links and family bonds with the weavers which were doing the lamps.”

One of the pieces is now on display at the NGV Triennial.

The other hangs in the studio in Barcelona where Mr Catalán de Ocón fields calls from weaver Lynette Birriran every couple of days — an ongoing touchstone between their two very different worlds.

“She tells us what is happening in Ramingining, what the weather is like, how are things going on,” the designer said.

“We tell them how is the lamp, if it’s showing here or there.

“She enjoys it a lot — we send pictures and it’s quite an experience.”

The 40 kilo/ 88 lb merino fleece – yes they sheared the sheep!

Standard

Yesterday, I told you about the unsheared merino sheep in Australia, well here is the follow up – and how they sheared it!  Again, copied from the BBC News website.

If you’re not familiar with how the merino sheep normally looks, or what its wool looks like when prepared for spinning – it is the most popular fibre for hand spinners – have a look at my post on Merino Wool HERE

Overgrown Australian sheep Chris ‘breaks world record’

  • 3 September 2015
  • From the section Australia

An overgrown Australian sheep affectionately named Chris has set a new unofficial world record following a hair cut from five shearers.

Welfare crews warned it risked death because it was so woolly from living in the wild for several years.

More than 40kg (88lb) of wool was removed in what the RSPCA says is the heaviest wool haul from one shearing.

National shearing champion Ian Elkins was urgently called in on Wednesday to tackle the mammoth merino.

A heavily overgrown sheep near CanberraImage copyrightRSPCA
Image captionChris the sheep was spotted outside of Canberra on Australia’s second day of Spring
Kangaroos look at the camera behind one of the woolliest sheep in the worldImage copyrightRSPCA
Image captionKangaroos outside Canberra are dwarfed by the woolliest sheep in the world

 

Mr Elkins described Thursday’s marathon sheering session as one of his biggest challenges, saying he had never seen anything like it in 35 years of work.

Chris the sheep on his back as Australian shearers remove wool which has apparently broken a world recordImage copyrightRSPCA
Image captionChris’s hooves appear damaged after coping with the excess wool weight

Chris the sheep had to be sedated during the very delicate operation.

Chris the sheep had is sedated during the very delicate operation.Image copyrightRSCPA
Image captionThe difference a day makes: Removing the excess wool cut Chris’s weight in half

Mr Elkins said he was proud Australia had claimed the title from New Zealand, likening it to “the rivalry on the rugby field”.

Weighing the world's biggest wool haulImage copyrightRSCPA
Image captionSpring clean: Chris’s world-record breaking wool is weighed

The massive bundle of fleece tipped the scales at more than 42kg (92lb), but was revised down to 40kg (88lb) to counter the weight of the bag.

New do: Australian sheep 'Chris' shows off a lighter look, complete with pink antiseptic stainsImage copyrightRSPCA
Image captionNew do: Australian sheep Chris shows off a lighter look, complete with pink antiseptic stains

Animal welfare officials said Chris was “four-to-five times its normal size” before going under the knife.

The huge haul of wool removed from Chris the sheep's tiny frameImage copyrightRSPCA
Image captionLightening the load: More than 40kg of wool was cut from Chris’s tiny frame