Basket, yabbie trap, sedge rushes [Lepidosperma canescens], Yvonne Koolmatrie, Murray River, South Australia, Australia, 1993
Since 1982, Yvonne Koolmatrie has been involved in reviving the basket making traditions of her Ngarrindjeri people on the lower Murray River region in South Australia. She modelled her fish, yabbie and eel traps on traditional forms and made them from sedge rushes (Lepidosperma canescens) in a coil-stitched basketry technique.
Yvonne Koolmatrie (born 1944) first learnt basket making techniques at a workshop given by Dorothy Kartinyeri in 1982. She collects the sedge rushes from a particular site on the Murray River, or Murrundi as it is known to the Ngarrindjeri people, a place that remains a constant source of inspiration to her. The technique of binding a coiled bundle of rushes with a 'button-hole' loop stitch has not only survived, but has evolved since the 1940s. As well as making fish traps Koolmatrie now uses the process to create innovative shapes that include aeroplanes and turtles. She also teaches weaving and basket making as she feels strongly about passing the tradition on to others, and she has represented Australia with her woven pieces at the Venice Biennale.
Exhibited 3-26 June 1993 at the Ivan Dougherty Gallery, Paddington in 'Yanada New Moon', an exhibition co-ordinated by the Boomalli Aboriginal Artists Co-operative. Previously exhibited March-April 1993 at the Contemporary Art Centre, Adelaide in 'Murrundi: Three Murray River Stories'.