Place In and On Aboriginal Australian Textiles from The Northern Territory

Research output: Contribution to conferencePaper


Historically Indigenous peoples have been written about through an anthropological lens that often serves to underline their otherness. This is done by exoticising their spiritual connection between the body, place and stories. My research seeks to interrogate these colonial generalisations by reframing them within Indigenous Australian contexts. In this paper I will focus on the ‘place’ strand of my research, exploring how place has been use by and against Indigenous Australians and how these complex histories are embedded within art and craft centre textiles from the Northern Territory.

These textiles are designed in isolated community groups where the majority of the population are Indigenous Australians. The textiles are imbued with a ‘sense of place’; predominantly due to the remoteness of the centres. Only a limited range of printing techniques can be utilized as, unlike an urban textile design company, access to resources is very limited. This has resulted in the widespread practice of lino block and screen-printing. The designers are largely inspired by their surroundings, therefore, textiles adorned in sea life are generally produced by coastal communities, whilst depictions of town life are from those living within the Alice Springs area. Designs are conceived, transferred to screens and printed in the heart of the community that inspired them. This cultural identity and pride is often reflected by wearing clothing made from the textiles at important ceremonies, such as funerals. As the communities are very remote, they tend to depend upon art fairs, markets and online stores to sell their textile products. Consequently, the designs are frequently purchased by non-Indigenous tourists who have no experience of the community and place which was so important to that textiles’ development. Divorced from their initial context, the centres then attempt to produce a ‘story’ and meaning to the fabric through the marketing process.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 9 Sept 2021
EventMeCCSA PGN 2021: Dreaming of Another Place - University of Brighton, Brighton, United Kingdom
Duration: 9 Sept 202110 Sept 2021


ConferenceMeCCSA PGN 2021
Country/TerritoryUnited Kingdom
Internet address

Bibliographical note

Presented at the 2021 MeCCSA PGN Conference 'Dreaming Of Another Place'


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