Weaving their magic: Wake Up Time Group members who worked on the Gala Jandah weaved dilly bag sculpture for Byron Bay artsCape.
Weaving their magic: Wake Up Time Group members who worked on the Gala Jandah weaved dilly bag sculpture for Byron Bay artsCape.

Wake Up call for artsCape

A GROUP of Aboriginal women met in Casino yesterday to put the finishing touches to their exhibit in the artsCape outdoor sculpture show, which opens in Byron Bay on Saturday.

They also shared their weaving skills and stories with several non-indigenous women guests, whose last-minute generosity made it possible for the art project to go ahead.

The Casino women are members of the Wake Up Time Group – part of an initiative by INTRA, the outreach arm of The Buttery, the treatment centre for alcohol and drug dependency at Binna Burra.

During the past six years, the women have used art and creativity as a means to support each other in the face of the challenge of substance abuse in their community.

Learning a variety of art forms had empowered them and given them new confidence, they said.

Health worker Gwen Hickling didn’t think she had any artistic skill and joined the group just for the company.

“But once I started I couldn’t stop. I was in another world getting the materials. It became like a meditation. There were times when I went back in time,” Ms Hickling said.

“I wanted to remember the women doing this all those years ago. I wanted to be there and I was there in spirit.”

Their artwork is a sculpture installation of a giant woven dilly bag and is named Gala Jandahl, which means Look At This Dilly Bag.

It was woven out of pandanus leaves using traditional techniques under the tutelage of Katrina Kelsey and will be suspended from a pandanus palm on the Byron Bay foreshore for artsCape.

However, the project almost didn’t go ahead because of a lack of funding.

Recognising the importance of the work to the Wake Up Time Group and their families, the Northern Rivers Community Foundation (NRCF) put together an impromptu ‘funding circle’ to raise the needed money through its own group of women donors.

Within three days, $3300 was raised and the project fully funded.

The donors and NRCF representatives joined the Wake Up Time Group yesterday and contributed a little of themselves to the piece.



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