earth weaving…
Posted in personal July 29th, 2014 by pia


A few weekends ago I had a wonderful experience that I’ve been longing to share with you. In the photo above, there is a little treasure that I made by hand using a technique that has been passed down over thousands and thousands of years. Can you guess what it is?


This basket, this tiny basket the colour of sunshine.

I made it by weaving pandanus collected from the outback, soaked and hand dyed with colour made from bush roots. With many thanks to my dear friend Kylie who invited me to attend the weaving workshop with her mum, sister Tiff and friend Jennifer, and to the Queensland Gallery of Modern Art (GOMA) in Brisbane who hosted the workshop taught by two beautiful Aboriginal women named Lucy and Shirley from the gapuwiyak community in East Arnem Land, I spent 2 hours sitting among 30 women, learning the technique and absorbing the sacred energy. It was such a privilege to be in Lucy and Shirley’s company, I could feel how special it was to be in their presence, and to be learning the ancient weaving technique that was passed down to them by the women in their families over millennia. During the workshop, Lucy and Shirley guided each of us as we began our coiling mat, it took two hours to get this far…


…so how many hours does it take them to create an entire basket? Not to mention the walking to and gathering of materials which are collected along the shoreline of crocodile waters in remote parts of the outback, land that I will most likely never know, but these women know as their backyard. They also search and collect roots to create the dyes to colour the pandanas, all of which take hours of itself. Even though I’ve always had appreciation for Aboriginal art and wares, I didn’t know the depth of my appreciation until I sat with them and tried my own hands at it. When I came home to Sydney, I was eager to finish my piece, turning it into a little wonky basket that fits snuggled in my two hands.

Thank you Lucy and Shirley for travelling to us to share your knowledge, and to all Aboriginal women past and present and future, who will continue to weave and teach us how to connect with the earth. Thank you to Shannon for organising the trip and all that goes with it.

Please take the time to check out the website and facebook link to the gapuwiyak culture and art center, there is much to admire. And if you can attend one of their workshops, all the better.


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  1. Teresa Dickson says

    What a beautiful story Pia, with so many mass produced meaningless items in this world…..x

    July 29th, 2014 | #

  2. Pink Ronnie says

    How beautiful, Pia.
    Ronnie xo

    July 30th, 2014 | #

  3. Limner says

    I would love to see photos of the women teaching their craft.

    I have a beautiful basket that was woven my women in Charleston, SC. I have two watercolors that depict them weaving. My imagination takes off every time I pass them. The basket hangs on the wall next to my headboard. You have done something I only get to dream about. 🙂 Your work is lovely.

    July 30th, 2014 | #

  4. pia says

    Thanks so much Limner. If you go to their website ( you might see some photos of the women working. I was too absorbed in the sacred moment to document it visually! Perhaps if I get a chance to see them again I will photograph the experience and share it here.

    July 31st, 2014 | #

  5. pia says

    Thanks Ronnie x

    July 31st, 2014 | #

  6. pia says

    Thanks Teresa, to know that I was making something straight from the earth was amazing, if only we could spread the experience so that people thought less of mass produced items. X

    July 31st, 2014 | #

  7. Judy says

    I was privileged to attend the afternoon workshop with my daughter and a friend of mine. It was such a wonderful experience and thank you formthenbeautiful write up.

    July 31st, 2014 | #

  8. katiecrackernuts says

    Weaving is an ancient art and I love it. I love how it is the same and yet so different in each country and the traditions and lore that comes with the collecting, dye baths and weaving and uses of different tools. Human made art that’s practical and temporary. So many things said right there.

    August 3rd, 2014 | #

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