Reclaim the void: Weaving country whole

Loop

20 October 2021

Ilka White presents a collaboration between Vivienne Robertson and Kado Muir that seeks to repair country with a giant textile artwork.

People sit weaving in the dappled shade of mulga scrub on the quartzy orange gravel of the northern Goldfields of Western Australia.

With hoop looms propped on their knees, hooked on convenient twigs or resting on the ground, the weavers talk, laugh, sing or fall silent as their hands twine strips of coloured fabric. Finished rugs are dotted around: fringed discs of colour, perfect in their imperfection, full of story and life.

Reclaim the Void is a collaboration between conceptual artist Vivienne Robertson and Ngalia cultural custodian Kado Muir.

The project arose from conversations with elders in Leonora, WA, who expressed great pain at “those gaping mining holes left all over our country”.

Their wild and wondrous idea is to invite thousands of people to create a small, circular rag rug from recycled material as an act of healing beauty. These rugs will become “dots” in a giant textile artwork, like a huge tapestry, to be spread across a mining hole, reclaiming all that country is.

Dolly Muir’s dot painting Tui – Claypans has inspired the design of the story/artwork, which Kado will assemble according to cultural principles.

Australia has dug over 50,000 mining holes on country that is alive with story, song, dance, law, Tjukurrpa, causing a scarred physical and cultural landscape. Reclaim the Void isn’t just about bringing beauty to a degraded mining site, it’s about learning, acknowledging and restoring sovereignty, custodianship and leadership to the first peoples of this country who still hold sacred cultural knowledge. It’s also a response to the modern problem of the huge amount of fabric and clothing waste we create.

Since July the project’s run a school residency in Leonora and two rug-making camps out on the stunning breakaway country of the northern Goldfields. More camps will be held in April/May 2022 and later next year funding permitting.

If you’d like to contribute a rug from afar, follow @reclaimthevoid and check out www.reclaimthevoid.com.au

Tutorials & instructions for making rugs will soon be available.

Photos @nic_duncan_photographer

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