Mavis Ganambarr and Koskela: dyed and woven pandanus
Mavis Ganambarr is one of Australia’s leading fibre artists. She began weaving under the watchful eye of her grandmother and aunties on Elcho Island, off the coast of north-east Arnhem Land, absorbing the knowledge of generations of Yolngu people. Arnhem Land has a long tradition of fine weaving, twining and netting, which Ganambarr is trying to keep alive through her work. Passing on her knowledge of plants, recipes and techniques to a new generation helps them understand this important part of their culture and how to keep their country strong. Ganambarr works with pandanus leaves and young saplings of the Kurrajong tree. She gathers and prepares these materials for weaving herself. She also collects special roots and plants to create a vibrant range of dyes. Natural dyes are traded between East and West Arnhem Land.
For several years Ganambarr has worked with the award-winning Sydney-based furniture design company Koskela. For Love Lace they collaborated on a woven light shade, which combines traditional fibres and techniques with contemporary design. Koskela provided the large steel frame as the base for weaving the light shade. Ganambarr has woven some areas of the lamp into the frame with the coil technique, bundling thicker fibres and fixing them in place with thinner more supple fibres threaded onto a needle. Others areas she has woven with a needle, using loose buttonhole stitches identical to those seen in traditional needle lace. Ganambarr enjoys the excitement of innovation and, with her nimble fingers, combines great skill with an excellent eye for colour and contemporary design.