Arnhem Weavers

Preparing freshly collected pandanus
Linda at work
Examples of the beautiful baskets the Arnhem Weavers create

Two dynamic women who have lived in their remote ancestral homeland of Mapuru in North East Arnhem Land all their lives have developed workshops in their community to share their culture with others. Daily they spin and weave articles that they need for themselves, their relatives, for ceremonies and for sale. These sisters have remarkable skill, which is shown by the extent to which they have travelled throughout Australia teaching their skills through workshops at galleries and museums.

Workshops are offered to people interested in Yolngu (Indigenous people of North East Arnhem Land) culture where the focus is textiles. The knowledge and skills the participants will be shown by the workshop leaders has been passed down for thousands of years, It is, as it always has been. Participants learn how to collect bark, pandanus and other plants. They are then shown how to prepare the fibres for dyeing before weaving or spinning. It is expected that workshop participants are motivated to engage with and learn about Yolngu culture and therefore will be keen to learn the traditional skills offered by these women. English is not the first language for these women.

Whilst the focus of the workshops is on weaving, there are opportunities for those interested participants to take part in hunting expeditions, including collecting mud crabs, a variety of shellfish, fish and other game that Mapuru residents regularly hunt. Men are welcome to attend.

The women who run the workshops are experts at utilising a variety of seasonally available materials for their weaving. They use pandanus leaves, roots, and bark for spinning and weaving, as well as a wide selection of roots, leaves and fruits to dye the fibres before spinning and weaving. The women see their initiative as creating meaningful employment as well as financial independence for themselves and their families now, and in the future. They are striving to create a future for their families while maintaining the integrity of their culture without having to leave their custodial lands. On their own country they are able to make decisions about their lives.

They have been hosting workshops in the community for the last 6 years with support from their friend John Greatorex.

Project description: 
The Arnhem Weavers run workshops in their homeland community of Mapuru in North East Arnhem Land, topics covered in the workshops include: Pandanus weaving, including pandanus collection, preparation, dyeing, and weaving. Mewana (reed) weaving. String making. Bush medicines. Harvesting of yams, fruits, shellfish, fish. Preparation and production of cycad bread. House and shelter construction. Trekking, following pre-contact paths across country.
Lead Organisation: 
Arnhem Weavers

Mentor Type:

Contact Name: 
Karen Young
Contact Phone: 
0487 333 660
Contact Mobile: 
0487 333 660
Contact Email:
Support Type: 
Get a group of people together and come and visit us
Northern Territory<br>Northern Territory - East Arnhem Land