Despite being temporarily out of action, master weaver Aunty Gail Manderson has three pieces in Wagga TAFE’s NAIDOC Art Exhibition.
Recent surgery to repair a damaged wrist has not dampened her enthusiasm for the traditional art practice she loves.
“I really love weaving. It’s relaxing. It takes your mind off everything,” she said with a grin.
“I’m out for at least three months … and my injury was caused through too much weaving!”
Aunty Gail’s work is on show beside a collection of works by other well known local Aboriginal artists including Juanita McLauchlan, Elizabeth Doherty, Ashleigh Pengelly and Nita Lawrence.
Marambangbilang Bundadhaany-galang means ‘many deadly artists’ in Wiradjuri and the works reflect this year’s NAIDOC theme, ‘For our Elders’.
“Our elders are the ones who pass on their cultural knowledge and inspire us,” said TAFE’s Aboriginal education and engagement coordinator Peter Beath.
“The elders are the ones that give us that strength to be able to put out our expression of culture into the world. Whether it’s weaving, whether it’s jewellery, whether it’s painting, whether it’s all manner of artwork and styles, it’s awesome to be able to take that ancient wisdom and culture and to be able to express it in 2023.”
Juanita McLauchlan works with Wagga TAFE as a technical assistant and said the facility offered great opportunities for local mob to learn on Country.
“It’s just a fantastic facility with so much to offer and some people don’t realise what’s available,” she said.
“We run the diploma, advanced diploma and also the bachelor so people don’t have to travel to Sydney and leave their community because that can be something that really does affect you and affects your ability to continue with your studies.”
Peter said it had been exciting to see the community emerge from the COVID-19 years and reengage with education and creativity.
“Hopefully doing things like this inspires people to get a little bit more active in the cultural art space,” he said.
“Some of the courses are very hands-on and you can’t really do them online but after the COVID lockdown there are so many things you can also do remotely that you couldn’t do before.”
Weaver Nita Lawrence said she had seen a growing interest among the younger generations to connect with traditional art practice in the region.
“I’m part of the Hands On Weavers group and we’re getting more and more people continuing on the tradition,” she said.
“The young ones are really interested and they’re actually trying really hard so I’m quite happy to keep teaching them.”
Ash Pengelly is well known for her painted teapots and ever-expanding range of local products and said she had benefitted from her connections with TAFE and opportunities to exhibit.
“It’s always a really good turnout here and I think it’s great to be shining a light on Aboriginal artists,” she said.
“In terms of the NAIDOC theme, it’s nice to have that connection with Aboriginal elders with their work in here too, so it’s really beautiful.”
The Marambangbilang Bundadhaany-galang Exhibition is showing at Wagga TAFE’s Gallery 43.