National Indigenous Fashion Awards
Australia’s First Nations fashion industry has finally had his spotlight to shine with having its first National Indigenous Fashion Awards hosted by Darwin Aboriginal Art Fair and Indigenous Fashion Projects.
In November, 2019 as part of announcements for upcoming fashion projects The Syndicate were invited to the Australian Fashion Council Roundtable having been introduced by friend and Founder of Jira Models, Perina Drummond. Taking place at Citizen Wolf at Darling Square we were fortunate to meet Nina Fitzgerald, Clare Summers of Darwin Aboriginal Art Fair, Bianca Hunt, Liandra Gaykamangu, Peter Naughtion of Artisans of Fashion and also Mark and Steph from Publisher Textiles. David Giles-Kaye the CEO of Australian Fashion Council at that time lead the meeting and workshop. Over the following months established stronger existing relationships with various groups within this network.
Most rewarding was meeting Elisha and Christian Hampson of Yerrabingin Gardens where we had planned our Sydney event for the upcoming awards. Unfortunately, this pandemic Covid had other ideas and as the Government restrictions changed from week to week it was safer to hold the event at a later date.
The Inaugural National Fashion Awards were to be held in Darwin on 5 August 2020 and we were all invited to nominate Designers and Artists who we felt should be considered. The Syndicate were so pleased for the following nominations in the following categories for NSW based artists and designers.
The Cultural Adornment and Wearable Art Award
Debra is a Sydney based artist and designer from the Palawa/Yorta Yorta and Gamilaraay/Wonnarua Nation.
Her artwork is a combination of Women’s business, which acknowledges the past whilst moving forward to the future. Her jewellery is made with a strong connection to country and the importance of looking after people and the environment. Her jewellery has been used in fashion runways, presentations, programs and collaborative workshops. (paraphrased: Indigenous Fashion Projects, Aug 2020)
Ngarrumiimi expresses some of the most exquisite artworks, handprinted fabrics and garments which are masterfully created by Lillardya Alirra Briggs-Houston who is a Wiradjuri Yorta Yorta Gangulu woman based in Narranderra, NSW.
Her pieces tell the story of the sandhills in Narranderra where her grandmother raised her. See her website for more of her creations. Ngarrumiimi was also nominated for the Textile Design Award category.
Textile Design Award
Dumphna Kerinaula, Kaye Brown, Michelle Woody, Nina Lydwina Puruntatameri, Corneila Tipuamanturmirri and Bernadette Mungtopi all from the Munupi Association Arts and Crafts Association, Jilamara Arts and Crafts Association and Naruwanajirri Arts all of whom are based on the Tiwi Islands.
These six artists share stories of their connection to country through Jilamara (design). Their work takes inspiration from being on country in the Tiwi Islands. The different symbols seen through their work include Japara the moon, Japalinga the stars, the sun, bush tucker and hunting. Their beautiful designs were included in fashion labels North 2019 Tiwi collection. The Syndicate had the privilege of being able to include some of the pieces of this collection in a small event for Inspirational Indigenous Women in August, 2019.
The Community Collaboration Award
So, pleased that Babbarra Designs based in Maningrida were nominated alongside Publisher Textiles for this special award. Having worked together for 20 years together they have produced hundreds of metres of fabric and have been able to improve and increase printing out on Country.
Babbarra have 25 incredible artists and The Syndicate is pleased to have been able to acquire a textile artwork by artist Janet Marawarr following the trip by Babbarra ladies to Paris, France last year.
Environmental and Social Contribution Award
Liandra Swim is intent on making a positive and impacting the environmental and social space in fashion. Their signature and culturally infused prints are digitally created in-house and named after inspiring Indigenous Australian women. Each collection of new designs and prints highlights the achievements of these woman a perfect, contemporary and unique way to share culture through the wider community. Liandra Swim was also deserving nominated for the Fashion Design Award.
Fashion Design Award
As Ambassadors for Ngali Australia we were so happy to see Denni Francisco and team be nominated for the Fashion Design Award. Ngali blends quality garments in modern silhouettes, layered with evocative Indigenous art and photography.
The label is working towards a scalable business model and contributes to a few social projects including a place called Papunya a remote Aboriginal community north west of Alice Springs. It is known for being the birthplace of the contemporary Aboriginal art movement in Australia. Ngali is part of B1G1 Worth Cause in one of the most remote communities in the world with harsh weather climate, where children are able to learn on donated computers, supervised by volunteers who teach the children about the internet with limited access.
MAARA Collective with Designer Julie Shaw was one of our NSW Finalists and the overall winner of the Fashion Design Award and also Community Collaboration Award. Within her designs and the also the name of her label honours the ‘many hands’ that are involved in her collections. Growing up in Lightning Ridge on Yuwaalaraay Country, NSW. She carries the strong cultural value of sharing and collaboration. Her hand dye ombre pieces are hand-dyed and inspired by Lightning Ridge sunsets.
NIFA was screened on 5 August 2020 and the stories of the finalists were expressed beautifully through the broadcast. The winners were:-
FASHION DESIGN AWARD
MAARA Collective is an Australian luxury resortwear line embracing a collaborative approach to fashion and lifestyle.
Founder/Creative Director Julie Shaw, a Yuwaalaraay woman from NSW Australia, has developed this premium line to showcase and celebrate Indigenous art + fashion.
The word MAARA refers to ‘hands’ in the Yuwaalaraay and Gamilaraay language groups.
MAARA works in collaboration with key Indigenous artists and artisans, drawing inspiration from Country to create a contemporary fashion & lifestyle brand with a luxe aesthetic.
The Resort ‘20 Collection, produced in collaboration with Bula’bula Art Centre of N/E Arnhem Land debuted at the Darwin Art Fair as part of the ‘From Country to Couture’ runway show.
CULTURAL ADORNMENT AND WEARABLE ART AWARD
Peggy Griffiths created the stunning Legacy Dress which has layers of linen and canvas hand painted by Peggy depicting Jilinybeng (bush cucumber) other layers of the dress were made by Peggy’s grand daughters. The Legacy Dress bought young and old artists together through a form of art they enjoy being Fashion.
TEXTILE DESIGN AWARD
Kieren Karritpul of Merrepen Arts
Kieren Karritpul is 26 and an artist and fabric designer from Nauiyu in the NT, who takes inspiration from the fishing nets of his youth and dreamtime stories. Kieren’s screen printed fabrics are stocked at Darwin’s Clothing Hub. Kieren likes that his art is an important to tell all stories in a new way. His work will feature in the Aboriginal Screen-Printed Textiles from Australia’s Top End exhibition in the Fowler Museum in Los Angeles.
COMMUNITY COLLABORATION AWARD
Julie Shaw x Bula’Bula Arts
Mary Dhapalany, Evonne Munuyngu and Margaret Malibirr are master weavers for Bula’bula Arts. Weaving since they were kids, they inherited this skill from generations before them. Collecting pandanus, harvesting materials and shaping various objects. Hilary Crawford, CEO of Bula’Bula Arts Aboriginal Corporation welcomed Julie to Yolngu country to work with the master weavers on a collection of accessories. These beautiful weaved headwear that are layered from the centre out and are exquisite creations that were seen on the Country to Couture 2019.
SPECIAL RECOGNITION AWARD
Bede Tungutalum is well known in the Australian Art Scene founded the iconic Tiwi fabric and label design Tiwi Design with Giovanni Tipungwuiti in the 1970’s. Bede created the digital print called ‘Arawunikiri’ which was created to celebrate 50 years in business. He says of his art is a continuation of their culture, from the past into their future.
SOCIAL AND ENVIRONMENTAL CONTRIBUTION AWARD
Ninti One means ‘clever one’ in the Arrernte Aboriginal language. Niniti One helped to support and advocate for a project for artists who create string bags known as ‘bilum’ which are inspired by the knowledge of Aboriginal Art and Fashion economies to Papua New Guinea. These bags are a vital source of female artisans and have cultural significance. They carry food, firewood and the craft are passed down from one generation to the next. However, there are cheap machine-made knock offs being sold at markets. This practice is impacting the livelihoods. Ninti One advocated for law reform and worked with locals to create an intellectual property framework and helping to protect Intellectual Property and sustaining cultural identity across generations.
Congratulations to the all the Nominees and Winners of Australia’s first ever National Fashion Indigenous Awards.
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With 15 years of experience between us, we are a team of like minded professionals working with inspirational creatives who will push the envelope in pursuit of creative excellence. Our first blog will be posted January, 2019.