We are exhibiting a wonderful collection of ghost net baskets from the Aboriginal artists on Groote Eylandt who work with Anindilyakwa Art Centre.
The concept behind these works is quite extraordinary. Fishing ropes, nets, and the plastic debris drift into the island from commercial fishing boats. They are called ghost nets because they are carried by the tides trapping marine life long after the fishing boats that dropped them have gone.
Ghost net material gets washed up on the beaches of Groote Eylandt. The rangers collect this material to clean the beaches and protect the wildlife. Normally the ghost net material would go into landfill. However in this case it has been reused as base materials for basket making.
The artists incorporate the ropes and netting that have been lost at sea in their weaving. The artists have also incorporated another skill which is bush dyeing, using organic dyes from island plants. The artists use their own dyed fabric and embellishments to decorate the ghost net baskets. These are a beautiful new art form from the discarded materials.
The baskets vary in size. Some are 80 centimetres across, and others are quite small, just 25 centimetres across. Some of the baskets have highly colourful silk sections. These baskets stop people in their tracks because they are so alive with character.
The baskets themselves are art pieces. They’re not likely to be used as functional laundry baskets, but they are the most beautiful things. As you look into them you can see the weaving patterns at the bottom, and the way the work is brought together. The ghost net method combines traditional skills with new creative outlets for the women artists on Groote Eylandt. It is both an artistic endeavour and a successful social enterprise for their community.
Hanging with the baskets from Groote Eylandt are silk scarves and wraps. These have been made using local dyes and elements found in the bush. This is a form of tie-dyeing where the shapes of the bush implements are embedded in the dyed cloth. The whole organic feel of the designs and the way the colours combine make for beautiful lengths of fabric.
The silk scarves are wearable objects, and they’re also wall hangings. We’ve displayed them in the gallery as wall hangings. Most of them are two-metre lengths of gorgeous designed silk. This is our second exhibition of Groote Eylandt fabrics and they form an impressive collection of work which I know will be very popular.
- View the exhibition: Ghost Net Baskets & Bush Dyed Textiles – Groote Eylandt