“Look at the Aboriginal basket I wove!” How often do you get to say that? If you’re me, you get to say it every time someone comes over, as you proudly show off what you created at the Koorie Heritage Trust.
To celebrate NAIDOC Week, the Trust put on a heap of special events — walking tours along the Yarra and Flagstaff Gardens, along with several weaving workshops. I was intrigued by the latter’s description:
In our Koorie Weaving Circles program, you will sit with Yorta Yorta woman Donna Blackall and learn traditional basket weaving techniques. Donna was taught how to weave by master weaver and Gundijtamara woman Bronwyn Razem.
I’m always trying to seek ways to learn more about Aboriginal culture, especially since I’m not from Australia. Plus, I took a semester-long class on Weaving & Fibre Design when I was in high school and loved it. So this workshop was after my own heart!
Donna had gathered some fresh New Zealand flax (harakeke in Maori) in the morning morning and already pulled them into strips. We instantly started in on making the oblong base for our basket. It was a bit difficult at first, but once Donna gave us individual instruction we were good to go, spending a super-relaxing two hours sitting, chatting, and weaving away. It was fun to talk about how the local Yorta Yorta and Wurundjeri women (and some men) would’ve sat around weaving baskets — for everything from carrying food to trapping eels.
By the end of class, I had a gorgeous Aboriginal basket to take home — plus Donna gave me a few additional pieces of flax, along with the start of another basket. Now any time I’m around some flax, I’ll be able to create an Aboriginal basket!
Why not attend the next Weaving Circle? From 1-2pm on Thurs. 31st July, $15 will get you a weaving session with Donna and Pakana artist Joel Birnie from Tasmania. Talk about a cool lunch break.
Koorie Heritage Trust
295 King Street
Melbourne VIC 3000