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Bábbarra Women’s Centre collaborates with Australian accessories and apparel brand Helen Kaminski on new collection

Phoebe Blogg -

Renowned as somewhat of a household brand within the fashion industry, this week Australian-born accessories and apparel brand Helen Kaminski announced the launch of its new collection and collaboration with First Nations art centre, Bábbarra Women's Centre.

Facilitated by Indigenous Fashion Projects (IFP), in support of reconciliation and ongoing commitment to artisanal craftspersonship, the Australian brand has proudly partnered with the Bábbarra Women's Centre for a unique new collection of hats and visors.

Striving to support Aboriginal women in the community of Maningrida and on surrounding homelands, Bábbarra Women's Centre enables local women to develop and run women-centred enterprises that support healthy and sustainable livelihoods.

The new collaboration saw Helen Kaminski's designer and product developer, Phoebe Hyles and master craftsman, Garry Bishop fly to remote Arnhem Land to meet, spend time, and share knowledge with the artists and communities over several days.

On arrival, Bábbarra Women's Centre manager, Jess Stalenberg and artist Janet Marawarr met the team with colourful mode of transport, the art centre's 'Troopy Truck'.

With its brightly floral design, the truck was a true reflection of the centre's passion for creativity, design and storytelling.

Meeting the artists firsthand, hearing their stories and seeing their extraordinary work brought to life was an incredible privilege for the entire Helen Kaminski team.

Bábbarra Women's Centre's Troopy Truck. (Image: James Giles)

For the brands inaugural collaboration, the Kaminski brand partnered with two artists from the Bábbarra Women's Centre, Janet Kalidjan Marawarr and Elizabeth Kodjdjan Wullunmingu.

Janet Marawarr is a senior Kuninjku artist who has been creating textile-based artwork at Babbarra Women's Centre for almost 40 years, whilst Elizabeth Wullunmingu is an Anbara Burarra woman who grew up on her mother's country at the mouth of the Blyth River, east of Maningrida in Arnhem Land.

Meeting both artists, hearing their stories, and seeing their extraordinary work brought was an amazing experience the team were very grateful have been apart of as both Janet and Elizabeth's textile designs are based on their ancestral stories.

These stories are showcased and displayed through a very special limited-edition collection of hats and visors. This First Nations collaboration is also a special connection to the brand's artisans in Sri Lanka, where the hand-printed fabrics are handcrafted into the limited-edition bucket hats, wide-brim hats and visors - using hand-braided raffia from Madagascar.

Bábbarra Women's Centre artists, Janet Kalidjan Marawarr and Elizabeth Kodjdjan Wullunmingu. (Image: James Giles)

Elizabeth Kodjdjan Wullunmingu working behind the scenes on the new collaboration. (Image: James Giles)

When it comes to design, inspiration and the meaning behind the artist's designs, both Janet and Elizabeth curate and craft their designs from the heart while being continually inspired by community, culture and their unique upbringings.

Janet Marawarr's artwork, Kunred Kunkurra, tells the ancestral story of spiralling winds and underground lightning in the build-up to a storm in Mankorlod, her clan estate in West Arnhem Land.

Hand-printed in a single striking blue, her intricate story shows the leaves being picked up and swirled around.

Elizabeth Wallunmingu's artwork, Dakarra, tells the ancestral story of a unique species of cockle shell and the fishing lifestyle enjoyed by her people.

Created uniquely for Helen Kaminski, the linoleum print is hand-printed square by square onto the fabric, making each length unique.

Controlling the paint and the pressing takes an immense amount of skill, and each metre takes approximately 1-2 days to complete.

A model wearing the new Bábbarra X Hk Visor. (Image: Helen Kaminski)

(Image: Helen Kaminski)

The team at Bábbarra Women's Centre were thrilled to have been provided with this opportunity, further thanking both Helen Kaminski and IFP.

"A massive thank you to Helen Kaminski for supporting Bábbarra artists to showcase ancestral stories through textiles, and working with us through this slow, intricate process. Your support has meant the world to us," the Bábbarra Women's Centre team said.

"A big thankyou to Indigoes Fashion Projects (IFP) for your continuous support and all your hard work facilitating the collaboration."

Providing artists with a commercial platform and the skills to pass on to others, the Australian-born brand is also thrilled to have had the opportunity to not only partner with Bábbarra Women's Centre and it's artists, but learn from the women's centre, expanding both the brand and its consumer's knowledge of First Nations culture, design and storytelling.

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