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Ikuntji Artists collaborate with ZHIVAGO for BARKAA’s custom-designed red carpet suit

Phoebe Blogg -

Stepping onto the red carpet wearing one of Australia's most successful First Nations art centres, last night celebrated Australian rapper BARKAA attended the 2023 ARIA Awards wearing a custom suit designed by Ikuntji Artists, in collaboration with renowned fashion house ZHIVAGO.

Partnering with ZHIVAGO saw Ikuntji Artist Hayley Dodd have her exquisite Dalhousie Hot Springs artwork work featured on the custom one-of-a-kind red-carpet suit.

Crafted by ZHIVAGO, the two-piece suit featured a hand-embellished jacket, decorated with meticulously placed Swarovski crystals to accentuate the intricacies of the Dalhousie Hot Springs artwork.

Having taken over 70 hours to complete, the two-piece garment is as much of a work of art as it was a fashion statement.

"It's the first time Ikuntji Artists is represented so strongly at the ARIAs. It is an important step for the art centre and the acknowledgement of our artists' work. We have been working hard to be seen for our designs and stories. We are very proud that our designs are now visible to anyone and worn as high fashion", said Ikuntji Artists chairperson, Roseranna Larry.

Gaining inspiration from her grandmother, Dodd's Dalhousie Hot Springs artwork is about her grandmother and where she was born at Dalhousie Hot Springs, in the Witjirra NP, an oasis at the Simpson Desert's edge - south of Finke and West of Oodnadatta in South Australia.

"I am extremely proud that my design was chosen for this custom piece for BARKAA. I love her music and am a great fan! To see a bespoke piece made from my fabric for the red carpet in collaboration with Zhivago is a dream come true, and I am grateful to be able to share my grandmother's story with the world like that," said artist Hayley Dodd.

BARKAA on the ARIA awards red carpet wearing Ikuntji Artists. (Image: Instagram @mf_pr @gettyimages)

Striving to represent a harmonious convergence of artistic talents from different disciplines, this collaboration between Ikuntji Artists, and ZHIVAGO, further represents a fusion of Indigenous Australian artistry and cutting-edge fashion, bringing a unique and culturally rich aesthetic to the forefront of the prestigious music event.

Both Ikuntji Artists and ZHIVAGO are proud to contribute to the diversification of the Aria Awards and the broader creative landscape.

"This partnership goes beyond fashion; it's a celebration of cultural diversity and a testament to the power of artistic collaboration," said ZHIVAGO designer, Lara Kovacevich.

"Working with Ikuntji Artists has allowed us to infuse Indigenous artistry into our designs and enriched our creative process. It's a harmonious blend of tradition and modernity, demonstrating the transformative impact when diverse forms of expression come together on a global stage."

In addition to her red-carpet appearance, BARKKA also appeared on the Aria Awards stage in a custom-designed ZHIVAGO skort suit.

BARKAA performing on the ARIA awards stage wearing Ikuntji Artists. (Image: Instagram @mf_pr @gettyimages)

Whilst BARKKA stunned the crowd in this collaborative creation, she was not the only one to show her love for First Nations designers and creatives.

Singer Kobie D and entertainment reporter Matty Mills also wore designs created by Ikuntji Artists.

Kobie D wore the Papa Tjukurrpa (Dog Dreaming) artwork, painted by Aunty Pam Brown. The country for this Tjukurrpa is Nyuman, which is three hours south-west of Kintore.

The dog lives at this place and can be seen as a rock. The story was handed down to the artist by her grandfather, and is a men's story. She paints the sand hills surrounding this country.

The suit was created by Mr A Taylor and design directed by Anatasia Keshan.

Matty Mills wore the Puli Puli artwork, painted by Keturah Zimran OAM.

Keturah depicts the puli puli (rocks) at two different sites. She paints the landscapes at Haasts Bluff, where she grew up and at Karrkurrutintja (Lake McDonald in Pintupi), located west of Kintore along the WA/NT border.

Karrkurrutintja country is an important site of the Pilkati (snake) Tjukurrpa (dreaming) of Kaniya Kutjarra (two carpet snakes, two brothers, two Tjangalas).

This story was passed down to her from her grandmother, Narputta Nangala Jugadai, who was born there. Narputta passed down this story from her father, Talaku Tjampitjinpa.

"The sand hills I paint are my mother's story, and the rocks I paint are my own story. My paintings are about my story and my mother's...I like to paint; painting helps me forget my troubles. I paint every day," she said.

The annual ARIA awards provide a significant exposure opportunity for the art centre and participating artists, with Ikuntji Artists having developed itself into one of Australia's leading Indigenous art centres.

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