Artworks weaved by children under the guidance of Aboriginal community members have been unveiled at Manly Library.

As part of the Gai-mariagal Festival to celebrate NAIDOC (National Aborigines and Islanders Day Observance Committee) Week 2022, the art installation called ‘Weaving Bridges’ was unveiled at Manly Library today (Wednesday, 06 July) by Northern Beaches Mayor Michael Regan.

Several works, which adorn the entrance to the library, have been created by children from Royal Far West and Stewart House under the guidance of traditional weaver Karleen Green.

With the support of Northern Beaches Council, regular ‘Yarn to Yarn’ weaving workshops were held during May and June this year, in partnership with Council’s libraries.

The workshops taught skills of traditional weaving and shared cultural practices, creating woven artworks by community members, local artists and members of the Northern Beaches Aboriginal community using donated, recycled and natural materials.

Gai-mariagal Festival Committee Chair Caroline Glass-Pattison said the artworks were the result of bringing together materials and people.

Caroline Glass-Pattison

Caroline Glass-Pattison

“The large whales were done by Stewart House, they bought together all the different elements. They decided the colours and brought all the natural fibres into them as well.

“Each of those weaves were done by Stewart House students and early childhood teachers. It was a sharing, of sitting down and listening, and weaving stories through the art.

“Here we are with an installation of sky spirits, on loan to display at Manly Library,” said Ms Glass-Pattison.

Gai-mariagal Festival Committee Chair Susan Moylan-Coombs expressed hope that the artwork would help others connect with First Nations People and culture.

Susan Moylan-Coombs

Susan Moylan-Coombs

“It’s really about the journey of bringing more people in. The more we do this and the more it’s in the public realm, using spaces such as Manly Library, people find out more.

“They find out that there’s a website that lists all the events, so then they can choose to go to certain events across the region. That is the purpose of the festival. It was to really open the doors to celebrate the culture and heritage of this region.

“Let’s create the ability for people to come together, to establish relationships, to open up conversations and dialogue. We’re doing this very local. We’re trying to get families, young ones and old ones to come together, have a cup of tea, have a conversation, and learn about who we are,” said Ms Moylan-Coombs.

Northern Beaches Mayor Michael Regan expressed delight at the artwork and encouraged Council staff to ensure their display at the library was extended beyond August.

Michael Regan

Michael Regan

“Since this project commenced in 2013, the Weaving Bridges project has resulted in many collaborative artworks, each following a different annual theme. This year, the weavers and workshop visitors have responded to the theme sky spirits.

“Taking the water and the land in the sky, the theme is sky spirits. They collaborated to create these inspiring, colourful works, which include whales, turtles, emus, the moon, and even the stars.

“This is one of the best ones I’ve seen yet. It’s a fantastic entry into this foyer of Manly Library, it’s great. Can we keep them?” asked Mayor Regan to the amusement of attendees and slight panic of Council staff.

The artworks can be seen in the foyer of Manly Library until at least the end of August, and possibly longer, depending on whether the Mayor gets his way. NAIDOC Week 2022 runs nationally from 03-10 July, and the Gai-mariagal Festival also concludes on 10 July.

Manly Library is located at 1 Market Place, Manly, and is open 7-days.

Images: Northern Beaches Advocate

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