Bendigo Art Gallery: Piinpi: Contemporary Indigenous Fashion  

[by Mark Orlandi]

Image: supplied

Created exclusively for and by Bendigo Art Gallery, Piinpi: Contemporary Indigenous Fashion will shine a light on Australia’s leading First Nations creatives, and a design movement that is fast becoming an internationally recognised fashion phenomenon.


Featuring the work of Indigenous artists and designers from the inner city to remote desert art centres, Piinpi will highlight the strength and diversity of the rapidly expanding Indigenous fashion and textile industry.


The exhibition, scheduled to open in July 2020, is curated by Bendigo Art Gallery’s First Nations Curator, Shonae Hobson.  A Kaantju woman, Hobson says the word ‘Piinpi’ comes from “my great grandmother’s language and is an expression that we use in East Cape York to describe seasonal changes and regeneration of Country.


“For Indigenous peoples, our knowledge of the land and seasons is culturally important as it signifies the abundance of certain bush foods, when we can travel, and when a good time to collect traditional materials for ceremony and dance.


“What we are seeing across the landscape of Indigenous fashion and textiles today, is this same knowledge being translated into beautifully crafted fabrics and wearable fashion items. First Nations artists and designers are expressing their culture and connection to Country through very exciting and bold ways – distinct from anything else being produced around the world – and this is something worth celebrating,” Ms Hobson said., 


Featuring collections by Grace Lillian-Lee, Lyn-Al Young, Maree Clarke, Lisa Waup x Verner, Hopevale Arts and many more the exhibition features garments and design objects from major public and private collections as well as new collections from designers and arts centres.


“Never before have so many works by Indigenous designers and artists been brought together to this extent, and in this way,” said Bendigo Art Gallery Director Jessica Bridgfoot. 


“Piinpi highlights the richness and innovation of contemporary Indigenous fashion design in this country - where culture, community and couture converge in the freshest and most exciting new fashion movement we’ve seen for a long time - and we plan to complement the exhibition with a range of programs, from artist talks to catwalk events.” 


Ms Bridgfoot said key works featured in the exhibition will be acquired by the gallery, and will form the beginnings of the Australian Fashion Collection.  “We are thrilled to mark this important moment in Australian fashion and design history with a new collection focus. 


“Bendigo Art Gallery has a celebrated, proven-track record presenting exhibitions that highlight revolutionary and historically important aspects of fashion and design, so it is only fitting that as an institution we start to build on a collection that preserves and captures key moments in Australian fashion history.  The launch of Piinpi and the new Australian Fashion Collection are an exciting new chapter for Bendigo Art Gallery,” she said.


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