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Presented and produced by Multicultural Arts Victoria, Australian Tapestry Workshop and the City of Port Phillip

International Woman's Day Celebration at City of Port Phillip

Women's Gathering - weaving stories together

Friday March 8 - FREE
10:00am - 12:30pm.

Australian Tapestry Workshop
262/266 Park St, South Melbourne

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Conversations at Emerald Hill

On Friday 8th of March, the flourishing partnership between Multicultural Arts Victoria, the Australian Tapestry Workshop and City of Port Phillip will present Woman's Gathering - weaving stories a cultural event that will celebrate International Woman's Day as part of Conversations Emerald Hill.

Conversations Emerald Hill website.

The Woman's Gathering - weaving stories together

The Woman's Gathering - weaving stories together will also launch the project Intertwined: stories on the wall, collaboration between Multicultural Arts Victoria (MAV) and the Australian Tapestry Workshop (ATW) supported by the City of Port Phillip that brings together artists from refugee backgrounds with professional tapestry artists to learn about using this medium to create deeply evocative new works.

Ma Late, Mu Naw Poe, Ma Nyunt and Ah Mu Say and her daughter Htee Hser Paw are Karen refugees who spent more than twenty years as displaced persons in Burma and in refugee camps in Thailand.

They have only been in Australia for a few years but this new life has given them the opportunity to weave again after many years thanks to the support of friend and teacher Carmel Power and through the creation of the Karen Artist Group.

Their success in this new land has been and continues to be a great source of pride throughout the Victorian Karen community.

Wajia Noori, Basira Vrasil, Adelah Formoli and Shafiqa Naeme are part of the Collinwood/Fitzroy Afghani Women's Group.

They came to Australia as refugees with their families escaping from the war in Afghanistan.

They meet once a week at the North Yarra Health Centre to share their experiences in Australia and to practice embroidery and other textile techniques from their home country.

In 2011 the group worked with visual artist, teacher and facilitator Ilka White on an Embroidery Project.

The group is also supported by artists/weaver from the Australian Tapestry Workshop, Sara Lindsay.

These groups of women submitted artworks to the Heartlands Refugee Arts Prize and were shortlisted for the Prize exhibitions.

The Karen artists have developed exceptional skills in paper collage and the Afghani Women's Group has demonstrated unique talent in embroidery.

They'll be present at the gathering to share stories and tradition.

The gathering will also be attended by other participants who are known in the community for their cultural weaving and storytelling skills including Vicki Kinai, Mary Anwat, Maryann Talia Pau, Dottie Lovitt, Aunty Carolyn Briggs, and Helen Light.

Many women see the traditional art of storytelling and cultural expression as a means of integrating the spiritual, emotional, and physical aspects of health and empowering individuals and communities.

The gathering will focus on issues related to culturally-based empowerment of women. The gathering will also look at the role of women as traditional preservers of cultural history through weaving, art and storytelling.

Participant Biographies

Vicki Kinai (PNG)

Vicki Kinai (PNG)

Fibre artist, Melanesian language teacher and cultural trainer, exhibitor, performer and educator.

Vicky was born in the local village Pitwa, located Southeast of Mt. Hagen town in Papua New Guinea and currently lives in Melbourne.

Vicky conducts Bilum making workshops on request by schools, community centres and galleries throughout Victoria.

Bilum making is very time consuming but also very special for Vicky as it is her home country cultural icon and a tradition passed on by her mother, grandmother, and those before them.

For Vicky it is important that this is kept alive no matter where she is. She has conducted past workshops and exhibitions in association with Multicultural Arts Victoria, Pacific Women's Weaving Circle, Fo Guang Yuan Art Gallery, Colour Box Studios, Studio 3- Lot 19- Castlemaine, and many small networking groups.

Mary Anwat (South Sudan)

Mary Anwat (South Sudan)

South Sudanese weaver who arrived in Melbourne in the year 2000 after living many years in refugee camps in Libya and Egypt.

She was born in Makwait - a small village in South Sudan, and when she was about 9 years old, she learned from her grandmother to make let (in her Dinka language) which are woven fibre baskets and circular trays that came in many shapes and sizes.

Mary gradually improved her skills until she consistently made attractive and useful trays, baskets, pot lids and containers of various types.

Since coming to Australia Mary has been involved in several cultural workshops displaying her craft.

In 2004 and 2005, through Footscray Community Arts Centre, she was part of a project involving 15 women from diverse cultural backgrounds culminating in a display of their work.

In January 2008, through Multicultural Arts Victoria, she participated in Africa Day at the Arts Centre Melbourne, demonstrating her traditional skills, and in that same year she was part of a one day multicultural workshop/demonstration at Gasworks, Port Melbourne.

In November 2012 she participated as a stallholder at Multicultural Arts Victoria's Emerge in Brimbank Festival.

Maryann Alia Pau (Samoa)

Maryann Alia Pau (Samoa)

Born in Apia, Samoa, Maryann Talia Pau grew up in Auckland, Aotearoa New Zealand and currently lives in Melbourne.

Maryann has been designing and making woven jewellery and objects for the last 14 years.

She is part of the Australian art and design scene with Mana Couture body adornment, affectionately referred to as Pacific Bling.

Using materials and craft techniques from her island home, Maryann's work has been seen on singing sister's Vika and Linda Bull, and on ABC Producer Namila Benson.

It is the making process that is crucial to Maryann's practice. It brings healing, fulfilment and connection to her communities and her ancestors.

Maryann's woven breastplates have been acquired by the National Gallery of Victoria (NGV) and have been exhibited in the Art of the Pacific Gallery, NGV International.

Her work was also featured in the L'Oreal Melbourne Fashion Festival 2011 in collaboration with The Social Studio.

Founder of the Pacific Women's Weaving Circle with Lisa Hilli (2010), Maryann is the first artist of Pacific Island heritage whose work has been purchased by the Victorian Foundation for Living Australian Artists for the NGV.

Selected as part of Melbourne's Top 100 for 2011, Maryann's journey to become a master weaver continues with much learning, sharing and courage.

Aunty Carolyn Briggs (Boon Wurrung)

Aunty Carolyn Briggs (Boon Wurrung)

Carolyn is a Boon Wurrung senior Elder and the Chair and Founder of the Boon Wurrung Foundation.

She established the Boon Wurrung Foundation to support First People and other Indigenous people connecting with them and with their heritage through culture.

Carolyn also participates and initiates Welcoming to Country and other ceremonies, teaches her culture through language and arts and works closely with communities through diverse mediums including visual, performance and oral traditions.

Carolyn is currently undertaking a BA of Language and Linguistics to record further the Boon Wurrung language from oral to written form and she is on the process of republishing the second edition of her book The Journey Cycles of the Boonwurrung a collection of stories about Boon Wurrung Country, history and people and the revitalized Boon Wurrung language.

In 2011 she won the National NAIDOC Female Elder of the Year Award.

In 2005 she was inducted into the Victorian Honour Roll of Women and is also listed in the Australian Women's Who's Who.

She also holds a BA in Social Science. Carolyn is a storyteller and a cultural custodian that shares her energy and enthusiasm keeping her culture strong within communities.

Helen Light AM

Helen Light AM

Helen Light AM was inaugural Director of the Jewish Museum of Australia having worked there from 1983 - 2010.

In this role she was responsible for establishing and developing the Museum in its own premises.

She now works as a consultant in museums, exhibitions and with multicultural heritage.

She is currently working on a project with Museums Australia (Victoria) to help ethnic community groups preserve their material history of migration and settlement.

She is on the Executive Committee of the Jewish Committee Council of Victoria.

In this capacity she is on the boards of the Jewish Christian Muslim Association and the Faith Communities' Council of Victoria.

She is an Advisory Board Member for the Australian Centre of Jewish Civilization and the RMIT.

More Information

For more information, please contact Trinidad Estay, Multicultural Arts Victoria, Email fiesta@multiculturalarts.com.au or call (03) 9188 3681.



Supported by City of Port Phillip and Australian Tapestry Workshop