Indigenous weaving wows Batemans Bay
by Kerrie O’Connor – Bay Post Moruya Examiner 21 July 2014
BASKETS woven of native plants hold a precious cargo for Indigenous craftswoman Vikki Parsley.
Surfside’s Ms Parsley said traditional weaving carried cultural renewal for Indigenous people and gave women’s knowledge pride of place.
Ms Parsley was busy throughout NAIDOC week, leading weaving, bush tucker and possum cloak workshops, and said reconnecting with and sharing her culture had become a mission.
“For me, it is about renewal and teaching,” she said
“I have worked closely with Indigenous communities across NSW over the years.
“It is teaching people to reconnect with their culture, reconnect with country, maintain their practices and take pride in understanding their background.
“We have lost so much in the past that it has become an important avenue for me and a passion.
“I cannot explain how significant it is for people to make that connection with their culture and the deeper connection and sense of belonging they then get to country.”
Ms Parsley led an overbooked workshop for more than 30 people at Batemans Bay Library last week, attracting Indigenous and non-Indigenous students from throughout the shire, using locally-harvested rushes and vines.
“I love seeing the joy on people’s faces when they see they are creating something from scratch,” Ms Parsley said.
Congo’s Alex Martin, 11, was all smiles.
“It has been great,” she said.
“My mother and sister made some when I was at a friend’s place.
“Their basket’s looked great and I wanted to try it.”
Ms Parsley, the daughter of artist Loretta Parsley, said family elders instilled cultural respect when she was a child, but starting work with the National Parks and Wildlife Service 16 years ago was pivotal.
“That was a turning point,” she said.
“I wanted to learn as much as possible about Indigenous culture.
“Through that process, I now run workshops.
“It helps develop an appreciation in non-Indigenous people of Indigenous culture, which has been underrepresented.”
“My weaving teacher was Deirdre Martin, a Yuin woman from the South Coast.”
Women’s knowledge, she said, did not get enough attention.
“Indigenous women have been underrepresented in the past in terms of knowledge,” she said.
Ms Parsley has taught several times at Canberra’s National Gallery and the Australian National Museum.
She runs her own consultancy.