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Meet the designers and artists behind the collections in Country to Couture’s show 1.

Under Fire

Hear. Our. Voice.

More than garments, fashion can be a vehicle for healing, for activism and political expression, for fighting for Country and the survival of culture.

We keep the fire burning.

Blaklabel Dreaming

by Kristie Peters

Yarrudhamarra

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Kristie Peters is a proud Wiradjuri artist, graphic and fashion designer who prides herself in working with community, seeing her work as  a platform to speak from the heart, to empower and breakdown barriers.

Her Country to Couture debut collection Yarrudhamarra, is a Wiradjuri word meaning ‘dream’.

“The story represents the love for my family, community and my personal experience. It represents the individual on their journey and the many paths and obstacles that they have faced along the way. They continue to show strength and positivity during all of the ups and downs. They take one step at a time and keeping their eyes on what’s in front of them and not too far ahead. It may not look like nothing is changing in the moment, but when they look back everything is different. Always have faith in the fact that you are exactly where you need to be at this very moment in time and if you’re content, don’t let anyone convince you that you’re not where you need to be. You be the judge of what you want to change in your life. Do not let anyone or anything discourage you from continuing to believe in yourself and believe in your decisions…. believe in your dreams.

When I say, see or hear Yarrudhamarra, it gives me so much strength because it is a visual reminder of the positive impact my family and community made in my life.”

“I use my art as a way to express myself and my cultural identity, for all Australians to understand the special connection we have with our Country, and our commitment to family and community.”

 

– Kristie Peters, Blaklabel Dreaming

DandalooSu

by Su Lousick

Coat of Arms

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Coat of Arms presents a collaboration between Wiradjuri women Su Lousick of DandalooSu and Jodie Peckham, creator of DandiArt.

Collaborating with family, to showcase our stories is very important and informs the work I do.”

Dandaloo Su is known for Su’s work with native and indigenous fauna and flora found in western NSW. The designer is passionate about bringing native fibres, fibre crafts and cultural practises to the world stage, with the new collection bulding on this.

Coat of Arms raises awareness of issues impacting Country. Speaking to “land clearing and its impact on native fauna, flora and gilgias-ephemral ponds once extensively situated within landscapes in western NSW, gilgias now are close to extinction due to land clearing.”

Country, community and culture give me the courage to share my story.”

 

– Su Lousick, DandalooSu

Gammin threads

by Tahnee Edwards, collaboration with Jarra Karalinar Steel

lilk

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Tahnee Edwards is the designer owner of Gammin threads, based on Wurundjeri Country. Her work represents and honours different aspects of First Nations culture through fashion, incorporating playful and fun elements that challenge people’s expectations of what Aboriginal design should look like.

Jara Karalinar Steel is a multidisciplinary artist based on Boonwurrung Country. Jarra’s work explores her identity, memories, future folklore, Blak Futurism and her lived experiences growing up in Melbourne and living on Country surrounded by culture with knowledge passed down through her family and Elders.

The collaborative collection Iilk feature’s artwork from Jara’s 2021 Rising Melbourne Art tram design iilk (eel).

“From a small child my mother would tell me stories of the iilk (eel) and their long Journey Cycles, as well as their importance as a food source for our people the Boonwurrung. I was always fascinated by the idea of them making their journey along Elizabeth Street which originally was a creek running from the Birrarung (Yarra River). The reason for using the iilk is because I like the idea of them taking back and reclaiming their important place in what we call Melbourne today. I imagine them all travelling along our tram lines as part of their Journey Cycle.” – Jara Karalinar Steel 

“A staunch aunty label. Inspired by a love of typography & pop culture, the use of bold colours, cheeky ‘IYKYK humour’ and messages that speak to issues impacting mob, mean Gammin threads represents much more than just clothing. It speaks to pride, women’s empowerment and community.”

 

– Tahnee Edwards, Gammin threads

Debra Beale

Truth be Told

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Debra Beale is a creator, story teller, designer and maker. Passionate about bringing her First Nation art and culture to life, her work focuses on textiles that explore both contemporary and traditional themes and mediums.

Her collection Truth be Told engages with truth telling and Sovereignty.

“Australia belongs to the First Nations People. Always was and always will be. The crown and the settlers did not respect our Aboriginal customs, Lores. They ‘claimed our country existed in accordance with the doctrine of terra nullius’. The white invaders turned a blind eye to the people that occupied this land first until the First Nation peoples resisted and defended their land, food, water and their families. White Australia today we have no human rights. Sovereignty is the foundation of all Aboriginal rights, and responsibilities.

My work engages with the post modern notion of difference by reframing the contents of my collection to bring forward truth telling of First Nation people and their way of life. It speaks of the difference between two cultures. Non-First Nation people change and exploit and destroy First Nation People’s cultural heritage and cultural practices within the Aboriginal art, fashion, tourism and global mining trade industries.”

I am honoured that my ancestors have guided me to Country to Couture to tell my story and celebrate First Nations fashion in a culturally safe place. I feel this is part of my healing journey.

 

– Debra Beale

Delvene Cockatoo-Collins

Dilly Bag and Mat Making

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Delvene Cockatoo-Collins is a First Nations artist and designer, who lives and works on Quandamooka Country. Delvene’s work embodies a rich connection to Country, capturing the Quandamooka soul. Her pieces share the stories, culture, heritage and techniques of thousands of years, passed down from generation to generation by her mother Evelyn and her grandmother Bethel.

“My grandmother wrote in 1974 ‘dilly bag and mat making as Granny did’. Her words will inspire this new collection. Using a combination of techniques – including traditional mat making and dilly bag making in the garments (fabrics and fibres) as well as the images of my great great grandmother’s woven basket through the prints. (this is in our local museum and over 100 years old).”

“Count, I am one of thousands, but we are one people.”

 

– Delvene Cockatoo-Collins

Gapuwiyak Culture and Arts x Helen Kaminski x Aly de Groot 

Old Ways, New Ways, Baman ga Yuta

By Gapuwiyak Culture and Arts artists: Lucy Wanapuyngu, Anna Ramatha Malibirr, Kathy Nyinyipuya, Marcia Mawulawuy Marrkula, Charmaine Ashley, with Trevor van Weeren – Arts Centre Manager, and Leonie Guyula – Arts Worker. Collaboration with Aly de Groot, and Helen Kaminski Team: Phoebe Hyles – Designer and Developer, and Garry Bishop – Master Craftsman.

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Gapuwiyak Culture and Arts, Aly de Groot and Helen Kaminski have come together to collaborate and celebrate fibre works and their place in traditional and contemporary functionality and adornment.

“Our collection is merging two independent collaborations into one celebration of creativity.”

Helen Kaminski and Gapuwiyak Culture and Arts began collaborating on a limited-edition range of hats and bags about 12 months ago. Similarly, Aly de Groot and Gapuwiyak had been in talks about creating a second collaborative collection following on from their award-winning debut at Country to Couture in 2022.

“We have all come together with a shared belief in the power of creativity to promote and strengthen Indigenous fashion and knowledge both within our respective local communities and on a national scale.”

Expect to see the traditional fibre work reinterpreted, sculptural silhouettes created in pandanus, accessories that blend raffia and pandanus together, bush dyed and upcycled garments and most of all a joyful celebration of resourcefulness, tradition, and creativity.

“Our project is truly in the spirit of the name Country to Couture. We are on Country and will work together to produce another amazing collection. We do things on Country not the city, and we want our cultural ways honoured .”

 

– Gapuwiyak Culture and Arts

Iltja Ntjarra (Many Hands) Art Centre

Tnuntha, Ntatha Tharrka nurnakanha (Our Animals and Plants)

By artists Mandy Malbunka, Dianne Inkamala, Delray Inkamala, and Mona Lisa Clements. 

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Iltja Ntjarra (Many Hands) is a not-for-profit Art Centre, proudly Aboriginal owned and directed. It is home of the Namatjira watercolour artists who continue to paint in the tradition of their grandfather and relative, Albert Namatjira, arguably one of Australia’s most famous artists of the 20th century. Albert Namatjira taught his children to follow in his unique style, who have since passed this knowledge on to their children, which has resonated in a legacy of watercolour artists in the Central Desert region. By continuing his legacy, these artists sustain an important piece of living history.

Watercolour on paper stands as the foundational practice from which new and experimental techniques have evolved. The current generation of artists responds to the influences of their daily lives, culminating in a fashion collection that merges the juxtaposition of pop culture and the traditional knowledge of their Country in a fun and innovative way.

Under the guidance of Senior Artist and Artistic Director Dellina Inkamala, alongside Vanessa Inkamala, a collaborative mentorship unfolded with emerging artists Dianne Inkamala, Delray Inkamala, Mandy Malbunka, Lindy Brodie, and Mona Lisa Clements, resulting in the creation of this fun and innovative collection.

Left: Animal all sorts Collaboration : Dellina Inkamala, Dianne Inkamala, Vanessa Inkamala, Delray Inkamala, Mandy Malbunka, Rhona Jones, Teresa Wilson, Lucinda Forrest, David Foster, Donald Kelly, Amanda Long. Artistic Dire c tor : Dellina Inkamala Designer : Koren Wheatley (Iltja Ntjarra ’ s Studio manager) Seamstress: Nghia Pham Model: Nicole Inkamala Photographe r: Klint Buzzacott (Iltja Ntjarra ’ s Arts worker) Right: Bird dress artist: Mandy Malbunka Artistic Dire c tor : Dellina Inkamala Designer : Koren Wheatley (Iltja Ntjarra ’ s Studio manager) Seamstress: Nghia Pham Model: Christine Woods Photographe r: Klint Buzzacott (Iltja Ntjarra ’ s Art worker)

“Country to Couture is a platform that allows us to share our creative expression to a wider audience, bringing a deep sense of pride and accomplishment.

– Iltja Ntjarra (Many Hands) Art Centre

MumRed

Fractured Country 

by Samala Cronin

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Samala Thakialee Cronin is a Woppaburra anad Butchulla Saltwater woman from the Keppel Islands and Kgari in Qld, raised in a kaleidoscope of culture and colour, grassroots political activism and practicing traditional song and dance.

Intent on creating more than just a ‘fashion label’, Salmala’s work is a celebration of grassroots culture and matriarchal strength.

Embracing self-sovereignty and divine femininity, MumRed embodies the essence of our heritage, weaving stories of resilience and strength into every stitch. With bold colors and intricate patterns, MumRed honors the lineage of our matriarchs, channeling their wisdom and grace into contemporary fashion that exudes confidence and authenticity. Every garment is a tribute to the spirit of our womanhood and the power of our collective femininity.”

Each piece is meticulously crafted with intricate woven designs, exquisite beadwork, and delicate featherwork, reflecting the rich multifaceted layers of the designer’s culture. Samala’s work encorporates traditional materials such as eco-dyed grass, fur, sinew, quills, and shells, adorning luxurious repurposed fabrics like velvet, tulle, silk, chiffon, and satin.

Left: Animal all sorts Collaboration : Dellina Inkamala, Dianne Inkamala, Vanessa Inkamala, Delray Inkamala, Mandy Malbunka, Rhona Jones, Teresa Wilson, Lucinda Forrest, David Foster, Donald Kelly, Amanda Long. Artistic Dire c tor : Dellina Inkamala Designer : Koren Wheatley (Iltja Ntjarra ’ s Studio manager) Seamstress: Nghia Pham Model: Nicole Inkamala Photographe r: Klint Buzzacott (Iltja Ntjarra ’ s Arts worker) Right: Bird dress artist: Mandy Malbunka Artistic Dire c tor : Dellina Inkamala Designer : Koren Wheatley (Iltja Ntjarra ’ s Studio manager) Seamstress: Nghia Pham Model: Christine Woods Photographe r: Klint Buzzacott (Iltja Ntjarra ’ s Art worker)

“Country to Couture is an opportunity to showcase the beauty, resilience, strength and grace of our Matriarchy – to continue the stories of our bloodlines…

 It’s about amplifying the voices of our people and nurturing an understanding and appreciation for the intricate layers of our culture and traditions.

MumRed’s creations are a fierce fusion of Country and culture – a triumphant dance of resilience and grace, each piece of interwoven story and the strength of our people’s survival.”

 

– Samala Cronin, MumRed

Sarrita King x Edition

by Sarrita King and Alice van Meurs

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Sarrita King is a proud Gurindji Waanyi woman living on Larrakia Country. She has been a practising contemporary artist for over 17 years, her passion is storytelling, finding connection through culture and landscape. A self-confessed ‘artist of today’ – she unashamedly combines methods and techniques from past and present times and is developing a future style for all generations to enjoy. 

Collaborator Alice van Meurs has been designing and making for her independent fashion label EDITION since 2011 on Ngunnawal and Ngambri Country. Sustainability is at the core of EDITION, from the fabrics chosen, to the zero waste pattern making and the ethical construction of each unique garment.

Alice and Sarrita’s friendship began in Canberra almost 14 years ago and have shared a love of art and design. Now with 5 children between them, both Alice and Sarrita split their time between family and working in their home studios.

The new collection is inspired by Sarrita’s original Lightning paintings, the artworks hand painted and screen printed on the garments create the same movement and intensity with simpler and bolder line work. In the garments Alice will mirror the movement of the artworks to create wearable pieces in interesting shapes and silhouettes to highlight Sarrita’s art.

Left: Animal all sorts Collaboration : Dellina Inkamala, Dianne Inkamala, Vanessa Inkamala, Delray Inkamala, Mandy Malbunka, Rhona Jones, Teresa Wilson, Lucinda Forrest, David Foster, Donald Kelly, Amanda Long. Artistic Dire c tor : Dellina Inkamala Designer : Koren Wheatley (Iltja Ntjarra ’ s Studio manager) Seamstress: Nghia Pham Model: Nicole Inkamala Photographe r: Klint Buzzacott (Iltja Ntjarra ’ s Arts worker) Right: Bird dress artist: Mandy Malbunka Artistic Dire c tor : Dellina Inkamala Designer : Koren Wheatley (Iltja Ntjarra ’ s Studio manager) Seamstress: Nghia Pham Model: Christine Woods Photographe r: Klint Buzzacott (Iltja Ntjarra ’ s Art worker)

“All of my art is informed by Country, community and culture. It is who I am. It is the part of me that I am most proud of, and that I seek to amplify and grow every day.”

– Sarrita King

Yalanji Artists x Linda Jackson

Underfire

By Yalanji artists Lorna Shuan, Karen Shuan, Margaret Rocky, Vanessa Cannon, Laurence Gibson in collaboration with designer Linder Jackson AO

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Yalanji Arts presents screen printed textiles, handcrafted ceramics and works on paper celebrating the culture and the deep respect, knowledge and connection to the richly diverse rainforest and ocean environments of Kuku Yalanji Country.

Located in Mossman Gorge Aboriginal Community, on the border of the World Heritage listed Daintree National Park, Yalanji Arts provides support and advocacy for its member artists, assisting them to showcase their culture and heritage in regional, national and international exhibitions.

This collection is inspired by the richly diverse rainforest and ocean environments of Kuku Yalanji Country stretching from the World Heritage listed Daintree National Park to the Great Barrier Reef.

Yalanji artists use their textile design to tell stories of cultural significance or personal histories relating to their Totems (Ancestral Beings) on land and sea such as the Cassowary and White Cockatoo, or Dugong and Green Sea Turtle. Other fabric designs feature vibrant weaving patterns of important cultural objects such as Dilly Bags or Fish Traps.

Designer Linda Jackson AO has been collaborating with the artists to transform their high-quality, linen-cotton textiles into unusual, simple shapes with matching oversized hats and hand painted bags showing off their art on cloth.

Left: Animal all sorts Collaboration : Dellina Inkamala, Dianne Inkamala, Vanessa Inkamala, Delray Inkamala, Mandy Malbunka, Rhona Jones, Teresa Wilson, Lucinda Forrest, David Foster, Donald Kelly, Amanda Long. Artistic Dire c tor : Dellina Inkamala Designer : Koren Wheatley (Iltja Ntjarra ’ s Studio manager) Seamstress: Nghia Pham Model: Nicole Inkamala Photographe r: Klint Buzzacott (Iltja Ntjarra ’ s Arts worker) Right: Bird dress artist: Mandy Malbunka Artistic Dire c tor : Dellina Inkamala Designer : Koren Wheatley (Iltja Ntjarra ’ s Studio manager) Seamstress: Nghia Pham Model: Christine Woods Photographe r: Klint Buzzacott (Iltja Ntjarra ’ s Art worker)

“It makes us Kuku Yalanji proud to be acknowledged for our textile designs and share our culture and stories with people around Australia.

 

– Yalanji Artists

Yanggurdi

Gumak Biik

by Cassie Leatham

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Cassie Leatham, Djaara/Daungwurrung woman of the Kulin nation in Victoria, resides on Gunai Kurnai Country. A multidisciplinary, award winning artist and designer in fashion and jewellery, Cassie works with upcycling and natural resources from Country, creating sustainable fashion for future development in design.

Cassie’s work shares strong visual stories of Country, seasons and the environment, storytelling though weaving adornments which speak to the effects of climate change.

Wanting to leave no carbon footprint, her fashion label, Yanggurdi, encompasses this ethos. Featuring sustainable, upcycled, bush solar dyed fashion and wearable adornments. These are designs that hold significant stories of the ever changing colours of the landscapes, designs that share weaving techniques with all native grass fibres, honouring past ways to continue storytelling.

The new collection is called Yab-lan Gumak Biik, meaning to wander through the bush on Country. Showcasing unique mica and ochre screen printing of cultural weavings on organic upcycled linen and cotton, with natural native plant dyes. The dyes are processed using earthen clay pots with creek and river waters, a long process of native plant soaking of the solar dye. The work shares stories of the colours of Country and the changes that are occurring today.

 Yanggurdi is a fashion label that is designing for the future, committed to the environment, wildlife conservation and cultural stories, honouring the ancestors before to continue the storytelling in the present for the future generations to be inspired.

Left: Animal all sorts Collaboration : Dellina Inkamala, Dianne Inkamala, Vanessa Inkamala, Delray Inkamala, Mandy Malbunka, Rhona Jones, Teresa Wilson, Lucinda Forrest, David Foster, Donald Kelly, Amanda Long. Artistic Dire c tor : Dellina Inkamala Designer : Koren Wheatley (Iltja Ntjarra ’ s Studio manager) Seamstress: Nghia Pham Model: Nicole Inkamala Photographe r: Klint Buzzacott (Iltja Ntjarra ’ s Arts worker) Right: Bird dress artist: Mandy Malbunka Artistic Dire c tor : Dellina Inkamala Designer : Koren Wheatley (Iltja Ntjarra ’ s Studio manager) Seamstress: Nghia Pham Model: Christine Woods Photographe r: Klint Buzzacott (Iltja Ntjarra ’ s Art worker)

“[Country to Couture is a way] to connect and share my journey through a multidisciplinary career and share important messages through fashion design…Belonging, sharing and creating for visual representation of culture through fashion design.

 

– Cassie Leatham

SAVE THE DATE

Tuesday, 6 August, 2024

Country to Couture 2024 will return to Larrakia Country this August alongside the renowned National Indigenous Fashion Awards and Darwin Aboriginal Art Fair.

 

The event is proudly supported by Country Road, and the Northern Territory Government through Northern Territory Major Events Company.