Piinpi: Contemporary Indigenous Fashion, Bendigo Art Gallery

An exquisite collection of contemporary Indigenous textile and fashion design works from streetwear to runway fashion are on show in a major survey exhibition entitled Piinpi. A kaleidoscope of colour, pattern and form brings Indigenous storytelling to the fashion stage with an array of unique wearable designs and accessories made from various materials. Silk, cotton, linen and upcycled fabrics, printed with natural dyes and pigments using screen-print and hand-block printing techniques, alongside other naturally sourced fibres, such as raffia, pandanus, sea rope, and other embellishments bring stories of Aboriginal land, Country and culture to life.

When is Piinpi on and where can you see it? The exhibition is on display until 17 January 2021 at Bendigo Art Gallery and is free to the public. With Covid-safe measures in mind bookings are essential click here to register. Piinpi will be on view at the National Museum of Australia in Canberra from 18 February to 8 August.

Piinpi is the word used by Kanichi Thampanyu, the First Nations people of the East Cape York Peninsula in Far North Queensland, which describes seasonal shifts in the landscape across time and space.

MAARA Collective x Bula’bula Arts collaboration. Hat by Margaret Malibirr of Bula’bula Arts. Dress by MAARA Collective. Model: Renee Weston. Photograph: Michael Jalaru Torres. Courtesy the artists and Bendigo Art Gallery, Victoria

“For Indigenous peoples, our knowledge of the land and seasons is culturally important as it signifies the abundance of certain bush foods, when we can travel, and when a good time to collect traditional materials for ceremony and dance,” says Kaantju woman Shonae Hobson, Bendigo Art Gallery’s First Nations Curator.

Hobson brings together a cohort of talented Indigenous artists and designers from the inner city and remote desert art centres, who share their knowledge and visualise personal stories of connection to land, Country and culture in meticulously hand-crafted fabrics, wearable apparel and statement pieces. Piinpi artists and designers include: Grace Lillian Lee, Lyn-Al Young, Rodney Carter, Maree Clarke, Lisa Waup x Verner, Hopevale Arts & Culture Centre, Teagan Cowlishaw, Elisa Carmichael, Lorraine Connelly-Northey, MAARA Collective, the Yarrenyty Arltere Artists, AARLI Fashion, LORE, Margaret Rarru, Bernadette Watt, Maicie Lalara, and many others.

Among the many spectacular creations are; four newly commissioned works by Gunai, Wiradjuri, Gunditjmara and Yorta Yorta woman Lyn-Al Young, which capture variations of the artists Country over time in hand-painted works created using ancient techniques. Dja Dja Wurrung/Yorta Yorta Elder Rodney Carter’s possum skin cloak reflects the resilience of the Dja Dja Wurrung people who are strengthening their cultural traditions through powerful forms of artistic expression. Inspired by the Australian landscape artists Margaret Malibirr, Mary Dhapalany and Evonne Munuyngu from Bula’Bula Arts in East Arnhem land, collaborated with Yuwaalaraay woman Julie Shaw creator of the luxury resort-wear line, MAARA Collective, in the making of an elegant collection of pandanus hats and accessories.

Peggy Griffiths, Delany Griffith, Anita Churchill, Cathy Ward, Kelly-Anne, Drill, Legacy dress, 2019. Hand-block printed linen and cotton. Photograph: Grace Lillian Lee and Chris Baker. Model: Peggy Griffiths. Courtesy the artists and Waringarri Arts. Bendigo Art Gallery, Victoria

Audiences will be enchanted by Peggy Griffiths, Delany Griffith, Anita Churchill, Cathy Ward and Kelly-Anne Drill’s Legacy dress (2019), a beautiful full-length gown layered with hand-block printed fabric drawing focus to the rich colours of the land. Teagan Cowlishaw exhibits an urban streetwear-styled jumpsuit titled Deadly kween (2019), made from sequins, upcycled materials, a ‘deadly’ t-shirt and gold lustre vinyl print. Cowlishaw pays respect to her Ancestors with her commitment to sustainability and preservation of Country for the next generation by utilising recycled materials in her practice. Grace Lillian Lee, a descendant of the Meriam Mir people of the Eastern Islands of the Torres Strait, presents a collection of intricately woven sculptural fashion pieces, created using techniques taught to her by artist Uncle Ken Thaiday.

Piinpi Contemporary Indigenous Fashion celebrates the beauty of land, Country and culture through fashion, art and design. This spectacular showcase turns the spotlight on the fast growing developments of Indigenous fashion in Australia and internationally, and highlights the exceptional talent of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Island artists and designers telling their stories and making their way in fashion.

“Indigenous fashion is not a ‘trend’ but an important movement that has put Indigenous voices and artistic expression at the centre of the global fashion agenda,” curator Shonae Hobson shares. “These pioneering artists and makers are carving the future of fashion and design in Australia and leading important conversations about ethical and sustainable practices.”

Visit Bendigo Art Gallery here for location and gallery hours. Don’t forget to bookings are essential click here to register. Enjoy!