Selling Yarns 2

Innovation for sustainability



At growing level

Session: Sustainability and the use of materials Friday 6 March 2009 1:00 - 2:10pm

Nalda Searles



There are two issues to be considered. The first is sustaining fibre practice, which has extended into so many new regions over the past 15 years. The second is sustainability of the resource of its main material in these new regions.They are both about maintenance and growth. In addition, one without the other is not possible.

How can the practice of fibre weaving be sustained, meaning another must ultimately replace one maker? Mothers replaced by a daughter, as it were. Now almost fifteen years later some of the older practitioners are no longer making. In these remote communities, there can be quite a gap between the schoolroom and the group of women sitting weaving on a veranda. Fibre weaving is not generally a part of the trainee teacherís curriculum.

Therefore, not only do the Indigenous fibre arts require research publications for the broader community but also the young potential practitioners require information access through print and visual dissemination suitable for them. There remains a kind of separation between fibre sculptures and painting. Could these two areas to be drawn together so that younger artists will have the freedom to combine them and move around within the mediums as they please, thereby holding in care the skills of indigenous fibre weaving and yet being part of the visual arts mainstream? I think ultimately this has to happen.

My second concern is with the practice of collecting preferred grasses by pulling up the whole plant. I know there are many arguments as to why it should continue. Almost without exception, all the communities source grass in this manner. There are preferred grasses and as each small patch is harvested, so it allows more aggressive grasses to invade that patch. Slowly each small patch will be totally replaced by an invader, probably by triodia which is not a preferred grass.

See also: Nalda Searles's biography