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Mudlark Jilinbirri Metals

It's an exciting time for Carnarvon, with the Gwoonwardu Mia - Aboriginal Heritage and Cultural Centre officially opening in Carnarvon on 7 November. A highlight for this incredible space is Burlganyja Wanggaya: Old People Talking - Listen, Learn and Respect. This permanent interactive exhibition unites and reflects the culture and stories of the five main Aboriginal language groups of the Gascoyne; Yinggarda, Bayungu, Malgana, Thadgari and Thalanyji. It is a place for Aboriginal people to share stories and where visitors can feel a connection to culture. 

Jilinbirri is an exhibition that has been recently exhibited across the state, but has returned home, to Carnarvon where it all started and can be viewed in the gallery at Gwoonwardu Mia. 

What does Jilinbirri mean?

The North West Australian Aboriginal Yamatji word for an Australian bird, also known as the mudlark in Western Australia. Black and white in colour and small to medium in size, Jilinbirri's are characterised by their group gatherings and playful behaviour. They are also well known for their nests made of grass and plant material woven together with mud, and generously lined with grass, feathers, fur and other found objects of interest. 

Jilinbirri Weavers 

Antoinette Roe is one of the youngest members of the Jilinbirri Weavers, a small group of Aboriginal artists from Carnarvon who have been working together since 2004, starting out as a women's healing circle activity, over the years they have dedicated their time to cultural heritage and community through the arts, creating their own unique and contemporary style that celebrates the Gascoyne region and the community. 

"Baskets originally crafted in traditional materials are inspired by our child-hoods... while we make we spend hours sitting around yarning and talking about these days. We hope that through Mudlark (Jilinbirri) Metals we can yarn with you some more about lives, our community and artistic journey" - Antoinette Roe 

Mudlark Jinilbirri Metals is the only Aboriginal weaving group of the region, we use traditional materials of grasses and wool, experimenting with found objects, wire, seeds, banana fibre and local plantations and textiles. In 2013, the weavers worked with Helena Bogucki - independent contemporary WA jewellery and small object designer who helped us translate our woven forms into innovative cast metal objects. This took the weavers to Melbourne to work with internationally acclaimed cast metal foundry artist, Mal Wood. 

Working in metal has not before been experimented in any other Aboriginal weaving group in Australia. New body of work delicately captures our intricate woven designs and patterning in metal; representing a traditional Aboriginal craft of one of the world's oldest living cultures in a new and contemporary form. In bronze, our baskets become vessels that can hold water, representative of our time spent on the Gascoyne river flats, where the "desert meets the sea". Baskets originally crafted in traditional materials are inspired by our childhoods - growing up in station out camps around the Pilbara and Murchison areas; spending time with family fishing, camping in the outback and up the coast, and days of horse riding; stories from the older people; and being surrounded by an abundance of local produce that Carnarvon is so well known for. 

The rich but delicate patina's are inspired by the vibrant sea colours of the Gascoyne coast, Ningaloo Reef and Shark Bay and tell the story of our surrounding country. Meanwhile, the small bronze animal sculptures (bungarra, roo and lizards) represent the days out hunting bush tucker around Carnarvon.  

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