Printing and Wearing Aboriginal Australian Textiles: Agency Through Embodied Sensation

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Arts and craft centres were introduced within Indigenous Australian communities across Australia from the 1930s onwards in order to provide a creative outlet for some members of the communities. Rooted in the missionary and colonial power systems, these centres arguably serve as a concentrated microcosm of the wider neo-colonial issues within Australia. The artefacts that many of the centres create serve as documentation of the tensions between artist and manager.

The majority of the textiles produced in these centres are made with the intention of them eventually being worn. This wearability also establishes a unique relationship between the buyer and the textile that is not present in other forms of Aboriginal Australian art and design. Building on Pajaczkowska’s argument that the temporality and haptic quality of textiles expresses 'a paradox of absence and presence,' this paper will first explore the notion of the makers' absent presence in contemporary Aboriginal Australian textiles. It will then consider the embodied relationships that both makers and wearers create with these textiles to explore the notion of agency within neo-colonial power relations. In doing so, the paper will demonstrate that an embodied analysis of these artefacts complicates established understandings of Indigenous Australian textile-making, its dissemination and use.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 17 Feb 2023
EventThe 3rd International Artefacta Conference: Agency - University of Turku, Turku, Finland
Duration: 16 Feb 202317 Feb 2023


ConferenceThe 3rd International Artefacta Conference
Internet address


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