long water
  • Installation view, 'long water: fibre stories'. Photo: Marc Pricop.

  • Installation view, 'long water: fibre stories'. Photo: Marc Pricop.

  • Installation view, 'long water: fibre stories'. Photo: Marc Pricop.

  • Installation view, 'long water: fibre stories'. Photo: Marc Pricop.

  • Installation view, 'long water: fibre stories'. Photo: Marc Pricop.

  • Installation view, 'long water: fibre stories'. Photo: Marc Pricop.

  • Installation view, 'long water: fibre stories'. Photo: Marc Pricop.

  • Installation view, 'long water: fibre stories'. Photo: Marc Pricop.

  • Installation view, 'long water: fibre stories'. Photo: Marc Pricop.

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long water

fibre stories

05 September–19 December 202005 Sep–19 Dec 2020

#longwater

long water: fibre stories illuminates spiritual, ancestral, and physical connections to water through fibre practices of artists from Yuwaalaraay (North West NSW), Quandamooka (Moreton Bay, South East QLD), Kuku Yalanji (Far North QLD), Zenadh Kes (Torres Strait Islands, QLD), Yurruwi (Milingimbi Island, NT), and surrounding homelands. Together this group—Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women, spanning different generations and ancestries—share an inseparable relationship to water, be it the vast sea, inland waterways, or expansive river systems.

Water places have always been a well-spring of vitality, knowledge, and connection for people and culture, yet these sites also resonate with the experiences of colonisation, difficult histories, and the pressing environmental concerns of today.

Similarly, fibre work communicates a strong sense of history, place, and knowing, found in the meanings, materials, and processes of production. In long water, artists embed the links between water and weaving in intricate forms, layered prints, and spirited installations that are guided by ancestral memory and grounded in personal interpretations.

Collectively, long water celebrates the stories of regeneration and continuation of important cultural traditions, and the strong women and vital water places that sustain them. The country, and wide range of environments, practices, and knowledge represented speak to both deep time and contemporary experiences—bringing into focus the importance of water to our cultural health and our capacity for resilience.

This exhibition has been developed through relationships with artists and communities, particularly the Milingimbi Art and Culture Centre and Moa Arts.

Artists

Susan Balbunga, Elisa Jane Carmichael, Sonja Carmichael, Fiona Elisala-Mosby, Janet Fieldhouse, Ruth Nalmakarra with Helen Ganalmirriwuy and Mandy Batjula, Paula Savage, Lucy Simpson, and Delissa Walker

Curated By
  • Freja Carmichael
Artist Bios
Susan Balbunga
b. 1953, Warrawarra people of North East Arnhem Land, NT. Lives and works Yurrwi (Milingimbi Island), NT

Susan Balbunga is an artist and cultural teacher at Milingimbi Art and Culture centre who works with fibre. Her work has been included in recent group exhibitions: Open Hands, Tarnanthi, Art Gallery of South Australia (2020) and Gapu ga rangithirri ga ngurruthirri (the water is coming up, the water is going away) at Woolloongabba Art Gallery (2017) and Yiribana Gallery (a selection of works from the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander collection in Art Gallery of New South Wales). Balbunga’s work is also held in collections of the National Museum of Australia and in private collections.

Mandy Batjula
b. 1980, Gaykamangu people of North East Arnhem Land, NT. Lives and works Yurrwi (Milingimbi Island) and Laŋarra (Howard Island), NT

Mandy Batjula is an artist and an accomplished weaver with Milingimbi Art Centre. She has delivered workshops in weaving and natural dye processes at the Makaratta (2016) and Gattjirrk Festival (2016) in Milingimbi. Her work has been included in recent group exhibitions: Open Hands, Tarnanthi, Art Gallery of South Australia (2020); The Alchemists: Weaving Knowledge, The Goods Shed (2019); and Local Colour: experiments in nature, UNSW Galleries (2018). Her work is held in collections of Berndt Museum, University of Western Australia, and Australian Embassy Washington DC, among others.

Mandy Batjula is an artist and an accomplished weaver with Milingimbi Art Centre. She has delivered workshops in weaving and natural dye processes at the Makaratta (2016) and Gattjirrk Festival (2016) in Milingimbi. Her work has been included in recent group exhibitions: Open Hands, Tarnanthi, Art Gallery of South Australia (2020); The Alchemists: Weaving Knowledge, The Goods Shed (2019); and Local Colour: experiments in nature, UNSW Galleries (2018). Her work is held in collections of Berndt Museum, University of Western Australia, and Australian Embassy Washington DC, among others.

Mandy Batjula
b. 1980, Gaykamangu people of North East Arnhem Land, NT. Lives and works Yurrwi (Milingimbi Island) and Laŋarra (Howard Island), NT
Elisa Jane Carmichael
b. 1987, Ngugi people of Quandamooka, Moreton Bay, Qld. Lives and works Brisbane and Minjerribah, Qld

Elisa Jane Carmichael is a multi-disciplinary artist working across painting, weaving, textiles, sculpture, and public art. Recent group exhibitions include Open Hands, Tarnanthi, Art Gallery of South Australia (2020); Weaving the Way, University of Queensland Art Museum (2020); and Transits and Returns, Vancouver Art Gallery (2020). She was a participating artist in the Queensland Art Gallery | Gallery of Modern Art’s Women’s Wealth project for the Asian Pacific Triennial 9 (2018). Carmichael’s work is held in private and public collections across Australia including Queensland Art Gallery, University of Queensland Art Museum, Queensland University of Technology Art Museum, and the National Gallery of Victoria. She is represented by Onespace Gallery.

Sonja Carmichael
b. 1958, Ngugi people of Quandamooka, Moreton Bay, Qld. Lives and works Minjerribah, Qld

Sonja Carmichael is a senior Quandamooka weaver. She has shown in group exhibitions; Open Hands, Tarnanthi, Art Gallery of South Australia (2020); Australian Art Collection, Queensland Art Gallery | Gallery of Modern Art; Legacy: Reflections on Mabo, Umbrella Studio Contemporary Arts and national touring venues (2019); and Gathering Strands, Redland Art Gallery (2016). Her work is held in the collections of numerous galleries including the Queensland Art Gallery, Museum of Brisbane, National Gallery of Victoria, and Redland Art Gallery.

Sonja Carmichael is a senior Quandamooka weaver. She has shown in group exhibitions; Open Hands, Tarnanthi, Art Gallery of South Australia (2020); Australian Art Collection, Queensland Art Gallery | Gallery of Modern Art; Legacy: Reflections on Mabo, Umbrella Studio Contemporary Arts and national touring venues (2019); and Gathering Strands, Redland Art Gallery (2016). Her work is held in the collections of numerous galleries including the Queensland Art Gallery, Museum of Brisbane, National Gallery of Victoria, and Redland Art Gallery.

Sonja Carmichael
b. 1958, Ngugi people of Quandamooka, Moreton Bay, Qld. Lives and works Minjerribah, Qld
Fiona Elisala-Mosby
b. 1985, Kala Kawa Ya, Torres Strait region, Qld. Lives and works Moa Island, Qld

Fiona Elisala-Mosby is an artist at Moa Arts who works primarily in lino printing, etching, mono printing, weaving, and jewellery making. She has completed a Bachelor of Contemporary Australian Indigenous Art, Queensland College of Art, Griffith University. In 2019 she contributed to a creative collaboration between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Art Centres and design brand Koskela, culminating in the exhibition Ngalya/Together, Tarnanthi, Art Gallery of South Australia (2019). In 2018 she was finalist in the Fremantle Art Prize and received the 2018 Indigenous Art Centre Alliance Lucille Osborne Emerging Artist Fellowship (along with Paula Savage). Her work is held in private and public collections across Australia including the National Gallery of Australia and Cairns Regional Art Gallery.

Janet Fieldhouse
b. 1971, Kala Lagaw Ya and Meriam Mir, Torres Strait region, Qld. Lives and works Cairns, Qld

Janet Fieldhouse is a skilled ceramicist. Fieldhouse studied art at Cairns TAFE before moving to Canberra, where she obtained two degrees from the School of Art at the Australian National University. In 2019, Fieldhouse was awarded the Cairns Indigenous Art Fair Premier’s Award for Excellence and received the inaugural Indigenous Ceramic Art Award from Shepparton Art Museum in 2007 and 2012.  Recent group exhibitions include: Weaving the Way, The University of Queensland Art Museum (2020) The National: New Australian Art, Museum of Contemporary Art (2019) and Women’s Wealth Project as part of the Asia Pacific Triennial 9 Queensland Art Gallery | Gallery of Modern Art (2018). Her work is held in collections across Australia and internationally. Fieldhouse is represented by Vivien Anderson Gallery.

Janet Fieldhouse is a skilled ceramicist. Fieldhouse studied art at Cairns TAFE before moving to Canberra, where she obtained two degrees from the School of Art at the Australian National University. In 2019, Fieldhouse was awarded the Cairns Indigenous Art Fair Premier’s Award for Excellence and received the inaugural Indigenous Ceramic Art Award from Shepparton Art Museum in 2007 and 2012.  Recent group exhibitions include: Weaving the Way, The University of Queensland Art Museum (2020) The National: New Australian Art, Museum of Contemporary Art (2019) and Women’s Wealth Project as part of the Asia Pacific Triennial 9 Queensland Art Gallery | Gallery of Modern Art (2018). Her work is held in collections across Australia and internationally. Fieldhouse is represented by Vivien Anderson Gallery.

Janet Fieldhouse
b. 1971, Kala Lagaw Ya and Meriam Mir, Torres Strait region, Qld. Lives and works Cairns, Qld
Helen Ganalmirriwuy
b. 1955, Liyagawumirr Garrawurra people of North East Arnhem Land, NT. Lives and works Yurrwi (Milingimbi Island) and Laŋarra (Howard Island), NT

Helen Ganalmirriwuy is a senior weaver with Milingimbi Art and Culture centre. In 2018 she was a finalist in the Telstra National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Art Awards. Her work has been included in recent group exhibitions: Open Hands, Tarnanthi, Art Gallery of South Australia (2020); The Alchemists: Weaving Knowledge, The Goods Shed (2019); the Asia Pacific Triennial 9, Queensland Art Gallery | Gallery of Modern Art (2018); and Bathi Mul, ARTKELCH, Germany (2018). Her work is held in collections of the Queensland Art Gallery, Art Gallery of South Australia, among others.

Ruth Nalmakarra
b. 1954, Liyagawumirr Garrawurra people of North East Arnhem Land, NT. Lives and works Yurrwi (Milingimbi Island) and Laŋarra (Howard Island), NT

Ruth Nalmakarra is an artist with Milingimbi Art and Culture centre and is a community leader who is passionate about education and the sharing of knowledge. She has worked as a teacher at Milingimbi Central School and at Langarra outstation for many years before working at Milingimbi Art and Culture centre as assistant manager (2005–2009). Nalmakarra has held board position with Association of Northern, Kimberley, and Arnhem Aboriginal Artists (ANKA). Recent group exhibitions include: Earth Matters, Form Gallery (2020). Her work is held in the collections of the National Gallery of Victoria and Museum Victoria, among others.

Ruth Nalmakarra is an artist with Milingimbi Art and Culture centre and is a community leader who is passionate about education and the sharing of knowledge. She has worked as a teacher at Milingimbi Central School and at Langarra outstation for many years before working at Milingimbi Art and Culture centre as assistant manager (2005–2009). Nalmakarra has held board position with Association of Northern, Kimberley, and Arnhem Aboriginal Artists (ANKA). Recent group exhibitions include: Earth Matters, Form Gallery (2020). Her work is held in the collections of the National Gallery of Victoria and Museum Victoria, among others.

Ruth Nalmakarra
b. 1954, Liyagawumirr Garrawurra people of North East Arnhem Land, NT. Lives and works Yurrwi (Milingimbi Island) and Laŋarra (Howard Island), NT
Paula Savage
b. 1982, Kala Lagaw Ya and Meriam Mir, Torres Strait region, Qld. Lives and works Moa Island, Qld

Paula Savage is an artist at Moa Arts specialising in weaving, lino-printing, drawing, carving, and jewellery making. She was a lead artist in a creative collaboration between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Art Centres and design brand Koskela, culminating in the exhibition Ngalya/Together at Tarnanthi, Art Gallery of South Australia (2019). Other recent group exhibitions include: Notation, Cross Art Projects (2019) and Lei It On, Contemporary lei and body adornment from the Torres Strait Islands, Cairns Regional Gallery (2017). She was the recipient of the Cairns Indigenous Art Fair Holding Redlich Innovation Award (2020) and alongside Fiona Elisala-Mosby was the Indigenous Art Centre Alliance Lucille Osborne Emerging Artist Fellowship (2018). Her work is held at the National Gallery of Victoria and in many private collections.

Lucy Simpson
b. 1981, Yuwaalaraay people, Walgett, Lightning Ridge and Angledool region, NSW. Lives and works Sydney, NSW

Lucy Simpson is an artist and designer working across a range of mediums and platforms to communicate stories and experiences of Country. She is the founder of Gaawaa Miyay (river daughter designs). In 2015 Simpson was recognised as an Australian Design Honoree by the Australian Design Centre. Recent group shows and projects include: Linear, Powerhouse Museum (2020); Measured Response, National Art School (2018); Four Thousand Fish, Sydney Festival (2018); and Primavera 2015: Young Australian Artists, Museum of Contemporary Art (2015).

Lucy Simpson is an artist and designer working across a range of mediums and platforms to communicate stories and experiences of Country. She is the founder of Gaawaa Miyay (river daughter designs). In 2015 Simpson was recognised as an Australian Design Honoree by the Australian Design Centre. Recent group shows and projects include: Linear, Powerhouse Museum (2020); Measured Response, National Art School (2018); Four Thousand Fish, Sydney Festival (2018); and Primavera 2015: Young Australian Artists, Museum of Contemporary Art (2015).

Lucy Simpson
b. 1981, Yuwaalaraay people, Walgett, Lightning Ridge and Angledool region, NSW. Lives and works Sydney, NSW
Delissa Walker
b. 1990, Kuku Yalanji people, Mossman and Daintree Rainforest, Qld. Lives and works Cairns and Daintree Rainforest, Qld

Delissa Walker is an artist skilfully working with Black Palm fibre and is active in sharing her knowledge through weaving workshops and demonstrations. In 2017, she was a finalist in the Telstra National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Art Awards. Recent group exhibitions include: Weaving the Way, University of Queensland Art Museum (2020); Measured Response, National Art School (2018); ARTNOW FNQ, Cairns Regional Gallery (2017); and Who’s Afraid of Colour?, National Gallery of Victoria (2016). Her work is held in the collections of National Gallery of Victoria and Cairns Regional Gallery, among others.

Curator Bio

Freja Carmichael is a Ngugi woman and curator belonging to the Quandamooka People of Moreton Bay. She works broadly across the cultural sector with artists and communities on projects with a focus on collaborative curatorial approaches and the promotion and preservation of First Nations fibre knowledge. Carmichael recently curated Weaving the Way, The University of Queensland Art Museum (2019), Seeing Country, Redland Art Gallery (2019) and Around and within, Macquarie Group Collection space gallery (2018) and was a co-curator of The Commute, Institute of Modern Art, Brisbane (2018) and its follow on iterations as The Layover, Artspace Aotearoa (2019) and Transits and Returns, Vancouver Art Gallery (2020). Currently, Freja is curator IMA Belltower at the Judith Wright Centre of Contemporary Arts and also works as an independent curator, writer and arts worker.


We acknowledge the Traditional Custodians of the lands where the IMA now stands. We pay our respect to Elders past, present, and emerging.

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