Four textile and visual artists have reflected connection with community through clothing in an inaugural North East project this month.
Elements of Indigo, organised by Beechworth Arts Council, challenged participants to design and make a navel-to-knees garment that expressed links to Indigo Shire similar to the bonds between Celts and tartan.
The interpretations produced by Maggie Hollins, of Benalla, and Beechworth’s Inga Hanover, Kay Hampton and Daren John Pope can be seen in Beechworth Town Hall until Sunday, November 25.
Arts council president Jamie Kronborg said the idea arose from historical traditions of clothing that identified a people’s tribe, clan, community, place, culture and even country.
“In this project, as the arts council’s contribution to the development of Beechworth’s longstanding Celtic Festival, participating artists were encouraged to tease apart the idea and tradition of tartan and re-work it to identify the communities of Indigo,” he said.
Aspects could include the region’s sky, landscapes, colours, seasons, geology, topography, plants, crops, animals and birds.
“A kilt is a traditional skirt that covers from navel to knees and has a deep history in Gaelic, Norse, Mediterranean, Tartar and First Peoples’ cultures,” Mr Kronborg said.
Hollins said the opportunity came up just after she returned from Ireland.
“I was excited,” she said.
“It was the right time for me to engage with it.”
In her research, she explored the region’s colonial history, such as the gold rush, the different nationalities who settled here and Ned Kelly, as well as the architecture, flora and fauna.
Using a repurposed woollen blanket as the base of her work, Hollins coloured it with commercial indigo dye.
“Indigofera australis is a plant that grows in Indigo Shire and the First Peoples of this place used the flower of this plant to produce a blue dye,” she said.
Inspiration for the other artists included the lichen on rocks in Beechworth Gorge, a mixed farming landscape and historic images of Beechworth and Indigo.
Hollins hoped other artists would take part in future projects.
“It’s a great way of bringing community together, having these exhibitions and challenges and I’m so happy that I’ve been able to be involved,” she said.
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