How we’re weaving Ngarrindjeri art into our new pendant lighting range

As part of Koskela’s ongoing social impact program, we’re proud to introduce the brand new lighting range Mardawi Lakun – Sisters weaving. 'Many hands weave together.’, created in partnership with the Ngarrindjeri Cultural Weavers arts collective.

In the Ngarrindjeri language, the word ‘Lakun’ – weaving – has multiple meanings. Yes, it means the practical skill of weaving – something to use or sell or teach – but it’s also a metaphor for community. It means weaving people, families and languages. It’s an act that brings people together. To sit and weave is both a time of reflection and a time for family and community to strengthen bonds, share knowledge, discuss ideas and make plans.

This togetherness is something we are privileged to platform in our new collaboration with the Ngarrindjeri Cultural Weavers: Mardawi Lakun – Sisters weaving. 'Many hands weave together.’ 

Before colonisation, and even long after, weaving has played an important part in Ngarrindjeri culture. “I was taught to basket weave 36 years ago by old Aunty Dorrie Kartinyeri,” says Ellen Trevororrow, a Ngarrindjeri Elder and prominent member of the Ngarrindjeri Cultural Weavers, in this film clip below

Ellen watched her grandmother practise traditional weaving as a child, but her own journey really began in 1982 when she attended a workshop with Aunty Dorrie Kartinyeri, an elder from the Point McLeay Mission. “It’s a survival connection. Stitch by stitch, circle by circle, weaving is like a creation of life. All things are connected.”

Back in 2009, Koskela worked with Ellen during our ngalya exhibition, and we’re thrilled to be collaborating with her again, along with the broader arts collective she works within. For those who don’t know, Ellen is a world-renowned cultural weaver with over 35 years’ experience. Her medium is the Juncus australis, also known as the austral rush, leafless rush or wīwī – a water plant native to south-eastern Australia and parts of New Zealand.

When you are weaving you bring people together, It’s a survival connection. Stitch by stitch, circle by circle, weaving is like a creation of life. All things are connected. - Ellen Trevorrow, Ngarrindjeri Elder

Aunty Ellen with her woven floor lamps - Ngalya 2009

Aunty Ellen with her woven floor lamps - Ngalya 2009

Woven Pendant by Aunty Ellen & Jalina Haines

Made from the delicate, dried stems of the Juncus australis, Ellen’s sculptures and woven works have appeared in galleries across Australia and overseas, including the National Gallery of Australia and the National Gallery of Victoria. 

These days she lives and creates on Ngarrindjeri country at Camp Coorong, a 10 minute drive east of Meningie, in South Australia. She is focused on sharing her culture with younger generations through weaving.

“When you are weaving you bring people together,” Ellen says. “Each stitch connects our Miwi wisdom.”

The new social impact pendant lighting range will showcase the Ngarrindjeri Cultural Weavers’ intricate basket-weaving technique, and the proceeds will go to support local Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities. “This project is so dear to our hearts,” says Koskela co-founder Sasha Titchkosky. “The Ngarrindjeri Cultural Weavers create such beautiful, detailed pieces, and we’re so grateful that they’ve chosen to work with us on this range.”

Of course, this project doesn’t exist in isolation. Koskela is proud to work with over 30 communities and Indigenous artists across Australia. In 2023 alone, we returned over $1.4 million to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities. 

We want to continue this program into the future, showcasing the creativity and craftsmanship of Indigenous artists, while providing an income that strengthens self-determination. It’s really the founding vision of Koskela: design as a vehicle for meaningful social change.

You can browse the new Ngarrindjeri Cultural Weavers pendant collection Mardawi Lakun – Sisters weaving. 'Many hands weave together.’ here. 

For more information on our social impact program, you can read our position on the Indigenous Voice to Parliament.

*Ngarrindjeri Lands and Progress Association Inc. (2013: 8) Ngarrindjeri Lakun: Ngarrindjeri Weaving. Prepared under the direction of Anne McMahon with Ngarrindjeri Weavers. Copyright of Ngarrindjeri Lands and Progress Association Inc. 2013