Ngalya (Together) is a collection that celebrates the 10 year anniversary of social impact work between Koskela and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities. The collection of collaborative lighting designs between designers Koskela and six Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander art centres – Bula’Bula Arts, Durrmu Arts, Milingimbi Art and Culture, Moa Arts, Ngarrindjeri Weavers, and Tjanpi Desert Weavers – highlights the innovation and contemporary transformations taking place in Indigenous fibre arts and cultures across Australia.
Ngalya is a lighting collection that has been designed for both commercial and residential customers and environments. This range of lighting aims to provide Indigenous weavers with an additional stream of income from their work and to introduce new and compelling ‘art products’ into contemporary interiors.
2019 marks a decade since Koskela first began working with, and learning from, the weavers of Elcho Island Arts on Yuta Badayala (In a New Light). Ngalya celebrates and expands this spirit of collaboration and knowledge exchange through the development of new illuminated woven forms. Ngalya seeks to physically and conceptually illuminate these profound objects, allowing them to be seen anew.
All the products in Ngalya are hand woven using locally harvested plant fibres and natural, hand-made dyes. The collection, preparation and weaving of the fibres are all labour intensive processes: harvesting the plants, driving the boat, stripping the leaves, digging up and peeling the roots for dye, soaking the leaves, boiling the pot, drying the fibres all happens before the weaving commences, and are an integral part of production and maintains cultural practices.
All these processes support Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander-determined care for country and environmental management practices.
We come to the art centre every morning doing djama (weaving work). Going home keep doing djama 5, 6, 7 o’clock lights on now. 8, 9 o’clock. At the wanga (home) the grandchildren are helping, collecting firewood and roots, bark and leaves (used for dying natural fibres). This is how they learn their culture and law. The djamarrkuli (kids) came from the school (as part of the Junior Crocodile Rangers program). They are looking at what we are doing and walking around to see the new weaving.
Statement by Helen Ganalmirriwuy, Susan Balbunga, Helen Milminydjarrk, Zelda Wuigir, Elizabeth Rukarriwuy and Abigail Mundjala, Milingimbi Arts and Culture
The lightweight frames upon which the artists weave are designed by Koskela and made by small Australian manufacturers, who are committed to their trades and often the last of their trade operating in Australia.
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Featured designs include:
Product: Batjbarra (scoop) and Madjirr (string)
Art Centre: BULA’BULA ARTS
In Ramingining, batjbarra (scoop) are woven to gather Rarrgi/Rakayi (water chestnuts). Here, a series of batjbarra by the women of Bula’Bula Arts have been reinterpreted, illuminated and suspended.
Madjirr is the Dhuwa word for string, and the form is inspired by the making of bush string and bags.
Product: Nerrim Wurity (making it together)
Art Centre: DURRMU ARTS
Location: Peppimenarti, NT
Nerrim Wurity is a new iteration of Ngan’gikurunggurr fibrecraft, inspired by yerrgi (pandanus) circular sunmats and twined, conical ‘airbell’ baskets.In Nerrim Wurity these objects have been reinterpreted as a series of overlapping circular and elliptical panels, allowing intergenerational groups of weavers to experiment with new and old techniques, & collaborate together on one object. Artist Regina Pilawuk Wilson states: “one is like a mat, other is like that airbell basket, that long one, that one we lost; this is old and new weaving together.”
Product: Yutu Dugitj (to grow together)
Art Centre: MILINGIMBI ART AND CULTURE
Location: YurrwiYutu Dugitj can be translated as both ‘a seed growing’ or ‘a grey hair sprouting’. Margaret Gamuti explains that Yutu Dugitj is also a metaphor for the senior and young women coming together at their art centre. This form is based on the rägudha (mud mussel); a nutritious source of food that grows at the base of the mangrove plants in and around Yurrwi.
Product: Taimer (stingray)
Art Centre: MOA ARTS
Location: Mua IslandThe artists of Moa Arts are inspired by maalu (the sea that belongs to the land) and its creatures. For Ngalya, the Moa artists and Koskela designers have developed two forms based on the majestic Eagle Ray, and smaller blue spotted stingray.
Product: Wirra Walykumunu (Beautiful Bowl)
Art Centre: TJANPI DESERT WEAVERS
Location: NPY/APY LandsWirra and piti are carved wooden carrying vessels utilised daily by women from the Ngaanyatjarra, Pitjantjatjara and Yankunytjatjara (NPY) lands. This woven interpretation of the forms embodies the Tjanpi artists’ innovative approach to contemporary fibre art and connection with past traditional practices and meaning.
Product: Ku:yitaipari (fish trap lamp)
Art Centre: NGARRINDJERI CULTURAL WEAVERS
Location: The Coorong, SA
Ngarrindjeri weavers Aunty Ellen Trevorrow, Aunty Noreen Kartinyeri and Bessie Rigney have transformed their sculptural coiled sedge weaving into organic vessels for light. The weavers’ Ku:yitaipari (fish trap) forms are made from fine bundles of freshwater sedge grasses; they are bound by a single reed, used to wrap the core and bind the coils as the trap is woven. The freshwater rushes that once grew in abundance along the Coorong have been decimated by environmental degradation and a rising salt water table.The Ngarrindjeri weavers collect the rushes around the lakes, rivers and the Coorong areas on the Ngarrindjeri country and are crucial to the sustainable land management of the sedge harvest.
All items exhibited in Ngalya Together are for sale, with prices starting from $1,100. Koskela is taking orders for additional commissions, as all works are part of Koskela's ongoing product range, with varying lead times on orders (depending on art centres).
Koskela's Social ImpactAs a registered member of the Indigenous Art Code, Koskela is committed to preserving and promoting ethical trade in Indigenous art. The communities we work with are paid in excess for what they normally receive for their artworks and woven goods. To further the development of these opportunities, from 2017 onwards Koskela has committed an additional 1% of all other Koskela product sales to go towards developing more of these projects with Australian Indigenous communities. This 1% is derived from the sale of other Koskela items such as our sofas, tables, and furniture, plus our work on corporate projects, equating to roughly 10% of profits.
Featured in the press
thank you so much for Ngalya. Having just returned to Canada after a couple of month “back home” you have lifted me again, this time with stories and images of your collaboration with the First Peoples of Australia. The processes and interpretation of daily life, allow windows into aspects of life with the land.
much appreciated, and again thank you.