Anna Ramatha Malibirr threading seeds, 2009
Photo by Louise Hamby
Anna Ramatha Malibirr threading seeds, 2009 Photo by Louise Hamby

Dr Louise Hamby and Lucy Wanapuyngu
Sunday 25 August 2013, 11am - 12pm
UQ Anthropology Museum
Level 1 Michie Building (9), St Lucia Campus 

All of the items in the UQ Anthropology Museum's exhibition Women with Clever Hands past and present are telling a story of resilience and survival.  In the past fibre practices were part of both everyday and ceremonial life.  They were accepted as items imbued with meaning derived from their Creator Ancestors.  Today many are no longer viewed as necessities of life; plastic containers and tins carry the honey and yams; pillowcases and mail bags carry the pandanus; handbags from Darwin carry personal belongings and blankets cover bodies.  However older women particularly, still make these items.  Some fibre works are used for ceremony, some are made to teach the younger generation about past practices but the majority of them are sold and serve a new function; they provide pleasure to their new owners who mainly admire them.

This exhibition contains older objects from UQAM that are in conversation with their contemporary counterparts from Gapuwiyak.  Skilled women are and were the makers of these works as exhibitor and assistant curator for Women with Clever Hands, Lucy Wanapuyngu observed; ‘They are all clever; they can make anything.’ 


Lucy Wanapuyngu is a senior fibre artist from Gapuwiyak.  As a Wagilag woman she is an advocate of teaching young people about their culture so they can maintain the values for future generations.  She played an integral role in the development of the Gapuwiyak Culture and Arts Centre.  Her artwork is in national collections and she received a Highly Commended for her work in the 2011 NATSIAA in Darwin for her Healthy Food from the Past.  She has worked with Louise Hamby since 1995 and was the co-curator of Women with Clever Hands: Gapuwiyak Miyalkurruwurr Gong Djambatjmala.


Louise Hamby has researched Arnhem Land fibre objects and practice since her arrival in Australia over thirty years ago.  Her expertise lies in museum collections from the first half of the twentieth century.  She has curated pivotal exhibitions and written books including Containers of Power: Women with Clever Hands related to baskets and other fibre objects.  She is currently a Research Fellow in the Digital Humanities Hub at The Australian National University and is working on a new ARC grant on collections from Milingimbi. 

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