As the "Quandamooka Festival" begins there are a number of exhibitions and activities being held in the Redland's Council area to co-incide with this event. So, I headed off to the local gallery to have a look at what was being presented. The gallery is located in the Council Building in Cleveland and at the entrance this sign has been erected.
My grandfather taught me to respect aboriginal people and their culture when I was a child. Back then this was very unusual. There was a strict divide between European and Indigenous peoples. He told me not to believe all the things that I was being told at school. He had many aboriginal friends who he admired and loved. So to see this sign displayed in such a prominent place and the sentiments printed there would have made him very happy.
The exhibition on show isn't large but it is very significant. The curator of the exhibition, Freja Carmichael wanted to "revive traditional indigenous fibre-making practices in South East Queensland, while also challenging accepted ways of curating through an intensive community engagement and consultative approach." (quote from foreword of catalogue.)
In a display case at the front of the exhibition was a basket that had been collected back in the early 1900's from this area and now resides in the collection of the Queensland University. It is quite beautiful. When you look into it the skill of the weaver shines through even today.
The even twist of the twine, the way the basket is constructed and the artistic talent that has been put into this piece.
It shows someone who was very experienced in the treatment and use of the materials and had outstanding skill.
This was not just a woven basket but a work of art. There was another old dilly bag on display and it too was beautifully made.
An account from one of the residents of Mingerribah says that:
"The baskets were made from rushes growing in the swamps. Suitable rushes were selected by an experienced aboriginal woman skilled in the craft of basket making. All aboriginal girls were instructed in the art. It noted that the rushes so gathered are white at the base of the stem where they join the root, which was followed by a red section of the stalk and the remainder of the rush being green.....When the rushes were collected in sufficient quantity for the task contemplated, the rushes were seasoned by being placed on sheets of tea tree bark and place on the grassed area under the deep shade of a Moreton Bay Fig."
I am so glad that today's weavers are rediscovering the skills of their grannies. It would be a priceless skill lost if they didn't and we would all be worse off for it's loss. This is an exhibition well worth seeing.
'Yura Yalingbila', Welcoming the Humpback Wales by Sonja Carmichael.