Selling Yarns 2

Innovation for sustainability



Holding it together: The integration of fibre arts and tourism in northern Australia

Session: Innovation: Indigenous business perspectives Friday 6 March 2009 2:10 3:30 pm

Nicholas Hall

Visiting Fellow, Research School of Humanities, ANU


Fibre arts represent an important ongoing practice in remote Aboriginal communities that can be used as a foundation for economic development activities integrating artwork production with tourism.

The making of fibre arts represents a unique opportunity for an activity that can provide architecture for Indigenous cultural tourism products and travel itineraries. Most importantly, the practice of sitting together provides an opportunity for conversation and interaction that provides two-way benefit in subtle but very significant ways. The encounter is not only a cross-cultural social experience, it is practical means by which language and communication skills can be practiced and developed.

The experiences that are built around fibre arts in tourism need to be well designed. This includes carefully articulating the balance between community development and economic development objectives and investing in a development process to ensure a new cultural production itself is born that considers the needs of both local practitioners and visitors.

The paper provides a number of examples from northern Australia of how fibre arts and tourism can be interlinked. It also discusses the particular needs of the emerging market for women travellers and how fibre arts can be used to facilitate the development of small-scale tourism enterprises run by women.

See also: Nicholas Hall's biography