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Mukulubena Baskets

Meaning ‘beautiful’, Mukulubena Baskets using ghost nets and bush dyed fabric by the Groote Eylandt Ghost Net Weavers will be displayed in Darwin for the first time this December. 

Every year around 640 tonnes of discarded fishing equipment, known as ‘ghost gear’, is left to drift in our oceans, entrapping bird and marine life as it moves aimlessly through our seas. Large amounts of these nets are found and removed from the remote beaches and surrounding waters on Groote Eylandt in the Gulf of Carpentaria. To prevent these nets from becoming landfill, or releasing poisonous greenhouse gases when burnt, Warnindilyakwa women are utilising this environmental threat in a creative way and sharing knowledge about this ecological hazard. 

NT artist Aly de Groot was invited by Ghost Nets Australia to facilitate ghost net weaving workshops at Anindilyakwa Art Centre in 2011 – and the women of Groote Eylandt have been weaving ghost nets ever since, creating unique baskets with bush dyed and recycled fabric. Groot now works full time with Anindilyakwa Arts, working with the artists to combine traditional knowledge and contemporary fibre art processes to create new ideas and designs.

Vera Lalara, an exceptional artist and weaver whose baskets feature in the exhibition, stays up late into the night, whilst her children sleep, weaving baskets where she lives on the remote 4 Mile Outstation.

“Old People came to Angurugu School when I was young to teach us weaving. We go collecting Pandanus and string and dying with plants to make colours,” she says.

“I love making baskets both ways, the traditional ways that the old ladies teach me and these new ways with the ghost nets and bush dyed fabric. It’s important, to keep my culture going, for the future.” 

WHEN Until Wed 20 Dec | Aboriginal Bush Traders | aboriginalbushtraders.com

Image: Vera Lalara, 'Ghost Net Baskets'; 4 Mile Out Station, Groote Eylandt; image courtesy of Anindilyakwa Arts 

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