I was a very restrained shopper at the Australasian Quilt Convention but I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to purchase this two metre length of lino-printed fabric created by members of Babbarra Women’s Centre from central Arnhem Land. (In case you’re wondering, I’m planning on making a dress or clothing with this piece – I love the play of light across the surface and of course green is MY colour!)
The colourful stand of Babbarra Designs was festooned with textiles featuring a combination of printing, hand painting, screen-printing and tie-dyeing to represent the cultural and linguistic diversity of the Maningrida region of central Arnhem Land. Reflecting the cultural identity of the women’s differing language groups, the pieces vary in subject matter, depicting everything from landscapes to dreaming stories, spirit beings and traditional bush foods and crafts.
The lino-tile printed fabric has up to three layers of colour and each is unique with varying tile and colour combinations. Some are then painted to further enhance the creativity of individual pieces. The group also prints a collection of fine silk-screened fabrics from original artworks.
Babbarra Designs operates out of the Babbarra Women’s Centre which began in the 1980s as a women’s refuge. In addition to educational programs and services, the centre provides women of the Maningrida region with employment and workplace training opportunities in several areas including hairdressing, retail and textiles. The major activity is the textile art business which teaches participants the required skills to produce textiles and garments.