In the spirit of storytelling, Adelaide Festival Centre is presenting First Nations art exhibition OUR MOB alongside its OUR WORDS and OUR STORIES events.

Showcasing in September at Adelaide Festival Centre’s Artspace Gallery, OUR MOB will feature three parts. OUR MOB presents art by South Australian Aboriginal artists, OUR YOUNG MOB sees art by Aboriginal artists 18 and under, along with a solo exhibition by Ngarrindjeri, Narrungga and Ngadjuri artist Sonya Rankine.

Recipient of the 2019 Don Dunstan Foundation Emerging Artist Award, Rankine is a talented weaver, running her own weaving business Lakun Mara.

Rankine said the exhibition was “exciting” and a chance for her to pull together both traditional and contemporary styles of weaving.

“I wanted to do pieces that showed a variety of … weaving styles … [I’m] branching into using different materials. It’s become a bit out of the box in regards to traditional weaving but there is still that connection,” she said.

Rankine learnt weaving from Ngarrindjeri Elder Aunty Ellen Trevorrow, a world-renowned artist and cultural weaver.

“About 25 years ago at a community event, Aunty Ellen Trevorrow was doing a workshop, so I sat down with her and did my first piece which I still have,” she said.

“It was about, for me, connecting with my culture which is also about my identity as a person who was fostered and raised in a non-Aboriginal family. I was put into the system at seven-months-old.

“It was about learning that tradition and being able to connect with it. I’ve just kept connecting with it since.”

Rankine still takes part in Aunty Ellen’s workshops.

“I still do the workshops that Aunty Ellen does, it’s the chance to sit with her, my family, and learn something more. Even though, I know how to weave, I will always learn more,” she said.

“That opportunity to spend time with her as a master weaver and an Elder is really special.”

Rankine describes her connection to weaving as “meditative”. She often forgets what’s going on around her.

“You really get into the zone with weaving, often I’ll have the TV or Netflix on in the background and have to wind it all back as I’ve missed it all focusing,” she laughed.

“I teach workshops as well, and people always comment on how [meditative] it is. It’s really mindful, it makes you step in and pull your focus in.”

OUR MOB solo exhibitionist Sonya Rankine. Photo supplied.

OUR MOB will run alongside OUR WORDS and OUR STORIES, a free event which brings together all ages to share knowledge and culture.

Taking place at the Adelaide Festival Centre’s Space Theatre, families will be welcomed to the OUR STORIES campfire to hear Dreaming stories from Margaret Brodie, Aunty Lena Rigney and Aunty Pat Waria-Read.

Afterwards, children aged seven and above can attend an illustration workshop by award-winning illustrator and graphic designer, Yorta Yorta woman Karen Briggs, whilst the Space Theatre hosts OUR WORDS, which will see creatives gather for conversation into the afternoon.

Speakers at OUR WORDS’ panels include:

  • Activist and Narrungga poet Natalie Harkin
  • Ngarrindjeri and Kaurna writer and poet Dominic Guerrera
  • Award-winning Yankunytjatjara author Ali Cobby Eckermann
  • Prized Martu author Karen Wyld
  • Yankunytjatjara woman and Australian music industry creative Deb Edwards
  • Birri Gubba, Wakka Wakka, Kanak writer, film and theatre director Alexis West
  • Wirangu, Kokatha and Larrakia SA Film Corporation Executive Nara Wilson
  • Helpmann Award-winning Pitjantjatjara and Warrigmal, South Sea actress and writer Elaine Crombie.

“Art is at the heart of many regional and remote communities, and we look forward to supporting South Australian Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander artists throughout this year’s events,” said Adelaide Festival Centre CEO and Artistic Director Douglas Gautier AM.

OUR MOB is on display all September and OUR WORDS and OUR STORIES are on September 11. Find out more about the events here.

By Rachael Knowles