Building Skills, Building Beauty: Contemporary Indigenous Craft


The 2018 pilot Craft ACT Contemporary Indigenous Craft + Design Project has been an enormous success, thanks to the deep generosity of funding donors and project partners. 

Craft ACT: Craft + Design Centre is committed to embedding Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander practice into Australian arts and culture. To forward this commitment, in 2018 we partnered with acclaimed visual artist, writer and Craft ACT Accredited Professional Member Jenni Kemarre Martiniello (Kemarre Arts) and the Indigenous Jewellery Project (IJP) to help create opportunities for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander artists and raise the profile of contemporary Indigenous art. We conducted a crowdfunding campaign to raise money for the project, with dollar-for-dollar fund-matching by Creative Partnerships Australia. The campaign was a wild success, raising a total of $20,960, and we cannot express enough gratitude to the 70 individuals who helped us to realise this important project. A full list of donors is below. 

The result has been a program of workshops fostering contemporary indigenous jewellery production. We had the expert guidance of contemporary jewellers Melinda Young and Alison Jackson, and Curator and Writer-in-Residence, Emily McCulloch Childs (IJP), and the support of the ANU School of Art + Design, whose excellent Gold and Silver Workshop facilities were perfect for our two intensive workshops. Thanks also to ANU's Sean Booth and Tom O'Hara for their technical support. 

Participating artists were: Emily Beckley, Angie Davis, Kayannie Denigan, Krystal Hurst, Samuel Radoll, Beverly Smith, Lyn Talbot and Jenni Kemarre Martiniello.

This program has been a huge success: the results of the workshops are exciting and range from rings drawing on traditional ochre shapes, totemic animal designs drawn from the artist’s country, spear and object designs, and for the first time for IJP, a range of utensils, made with Craft ACT APM Alison Jackson. These include traditional pitis (coolamons) and oyster trays, and delicate representations of native gum leaves.

“This workshop has given me more ways to show connection to my Aboriginal identity and culture,” said one of the IJP participants.

A number of works from the project have been displayed by the Craft ACT gallery throughout the year, and a final selection of works can be seen now in our Emerging Contemporaries showcase exhibition, until 16 March. 
A huge thank you to Creative Partnerships Australia, the ANU School of Art and Design, the Indigenous Jewellery Project, Kemarre Arts and the following people (and anonymous donors) who have made this project possible: Graham Humphries, Robert Fenderson, Karen Wood, Sam Bryant, Alfonso del Rio, Cox Architecture, Helen O'Neil, Marylou Pooley, Andrew Collins, Susan Rutter, Alison Limb, Penleigh & Robyn Boyd, Peter Nolan, Adam Stankevicius, Sue Terry, David & Margaret Williams, Valerie Odewahn, Anne Daly, Rebecca Thorpe, Kerrie Bryant, Virginia McLeod, Anne Masters, Cecelia, Lynn, Winnie Ho, Ian Hodgson, Alison Roach, Andrew Pickering, Andrea Ho, Annemieke Mulders, Sylvia Carr, Christine Nicholson, Kate Nixon, Kaet Lovell, Colin Parks, Caroline Wolfs, Janet DeBoos, Maria Tallarida, Stephanie von Gavel, Susan Hill, Bradley Thomas, Tarale Alcock, Cindy Young, Sandra Marks, Carolyn Ludovici, Lyn Valentine, Noel Will, Erin Lowther, Tim Hollo, Rachael Coghlan, Claire Reece, Alison Alder, Meredith Hinchliffe, Rebecca Richards, Jacqui Malins, Grace Blakeley-Carroll, Zoe Brand, Sarah Murphy, Madisyn Zabel, Jo Paul, Gabriele New, Robin Poke, Caren Florance, Daniel Ballantyne, Zoe Slee, Sheridan Burnett, Richilde Flavell and Tracy Hopkirk.


Image: works displayed in the current Emerging Contemporaries exhibition at Craft ACT by (l-r) Beverly Smith, Samuel Radoll, Angie Davis, Krystal Hurst, Jennifer Kemarre Martiniello, Kayannie Denigan, Emily Beckley. Photo: 5Foot Photography.