First Nations Fashion Creatives Awarded

First Nations Fashion Creatives Awarded

Magnolia Maymuru in silk organza dress from Hopevale Art x QUT collection. Photo credit: Pip Miller

August 2020 saw the winners of the inaugural National Indigenous Fashion Awards (NIFA) announced at a ceremony in Sydney that was broadcast live on social media.

The NIFA showcased collections and designs from Australia’s leading and emerging designers and artists, a unique opportunity for both the Australian and international fashion communities to connect to the world’s oldest living cultures.

The Awards, which are run by the Darwin Aboriginal Art Fair Foundation and sponsored by the Northern Territory Government recognise and celebrate the innovation, diversity and ethical practices of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander artists and fashion designers. The event saw 33 First Nations fashion creatives nominated from across the country, and awarded winners across six unique categories.

And the winners are:

Peggy Griffiths in the Legacy Dress

Peggy Griffiths in the Legacy Dress. Photo credit: Chris Baker

Cultural Adornment and Wearable Art Award Winner | Peggy Griffiths

Cultural adornment and wearable art goes deeper than just the decorative, it is a visual vocabulary, enriched with cultural expression. It is a modern way to acknowledge the remarkable and ancient practice of body design and ceremony which has danced its way across this country for millennia.

Peggy is an artist with deep cultural knowledge. She is a mother, grandmother and great-grandmother to a new generation of artists and cultural leaders. The dress she wears above is a collaboration piece made with textiles from all the artists that participated in the creative development workshops with Grace Lillian Lee and Sally Jackson. Peggy’s Legacy Dress reflects the importance of culture, whilst remaining a visibly breathtaking piece which is wearable across the ages.

The judges commended Peggy on her strong cultural leadership and mentorship, and the confidence she is providing to young people in her community.

North print by Kieren Karritpul

North print by Kieren Karritpul. Photo credit: John Tsialos

Textile Design Award Winner | Kieren Karritpul

Indigenous textile designs hold deep meaning and are a medium which pushes the boundaries of contemporary First Nations cultures. There is freedom to textile design, seen in the use of the vibrant colours, and new expressions of old stories, which enable artists to stretch their imagination.

Kieren is a talented young designer whose work is already being recognised both nationally and internationally. The judges congratulated Kieren on his ability to tell stories through his textiles and bring about a truly emotional experience. Additionally, Kieren’s use of movement and truly breathtaking colours.

Hat woven by Margaret Malibirr

Hat woven by Margaret Malibirr. Photo credit: Grazia Magazine

Community Collaboration Award Winners | Julie Shaw of Maara Collective & Mary Dhapalany Mangul, Margaret Djarbaalabal Malibirr and Evonne Muyuyngu of Bula-Bula Arts

When creatives, both Indigenous and non-Indigenous come together, the sharing of ideas and histories, cultural storytelling and spiritualism, and traditional practices amongst family clan groups and their wider communities can be celebrated.

The judges noted that this collaboration is powerful because it demonstrates a process of cultural knowledge sharing. Julie spent time collaborating with Mary, Evonne, and Margaret in Ramingining, learning their traditions, stories and cultural practices. This collaboration was not led by any prescribed ideas, but was instead culturally led with both parties empowered throughout the process.

PNG traditional bilum

PNG traditional bilum. Photo credit: Bilum and Bilas

Environmental and Social Contribution Award Winner | Ninti One

This award celebrates excellence and leadership in environmental and social development understanding, and practice in relation to textiles and fashion. Ninti One Limited have had a huge impact on the protection of artistic, creative and cultural works, plus generate immeasurable benefits to the First People of PNG, both culturally and economically.

Bede Tungutalum textile design

Bede Tungutalum textile design. Photo credit: Dylan Buckee

Special Recognition Award Winner | Bede Tungutalum

This Award honours a group, organisation, or individual that has shown exceptional contribution to the development of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander textiles and fashion.

The judges congratulated Bede on his outstanding breadth of work over many decades, and his strong cultural leadership and vision as a senior artist within his community, nationally and internationally. A talented man from Bathurst Island, it is so important to recognise his amazing contribution to the Indigenous art and design industry and to the evolution of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander textiles and design, spreading it globally ensuring that it continues to grow and develop and providing new avenues for jobs and economic prosperity for Aboriginal people.

Maara Collective

Maara Collective. Photo credit: Dylan Buckee, courtesy @darwinartfair

Fashion Design Award Winner | Julie Shaw

The Fashion Design Award recognises a commercial fashion label that has produced a minimum of two collections of original design of clothing, jewellery or accessories.

The judges congratulated Julie on her optimistic use of colour, and the fact that her designs are elegant and unique contemporary interpretations of Indigenous design. Additionally, Julie’s key business pillars of giving back to the community prove that her brand, MAARA Collective, goes much deeper than the commercial look, drawing on the storytelling of Aboriginal Australia.

Julie’s prize is presented by Country Road and includes an internship with the brand, industry mentorship and a one year membership to the Australian Fashion Council.

Please note information on winners is extracted directly from the NIFA website.

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