Embodying culture and creativity, Ngumpie Weaving’s Tegan Murdock is creating beautifully woven jewellery and keepsakes, sharing her craft with the world.

A Barkindtji/Yorta Yorta woman, Murdock grew up in Coomealla, a small town in the far west of New South Wales. 

“I did all schooling down there up until the start of year 11, after school we moved to Albury Wodonga. From there I just started working, with no real career path in mind, I was just happy to work and get out in the world,” Murdock said.

Murdock was taught weaving by her mother.

“My mum taught me how to weave a few years ago now, she had tried to teach me prior to that but it just wasn’t my time, I wasn’t getting it; I wasn’t picking it up,” she said.“One day, we had just gotten back from a cruise and everyone was waiting to go home the next day, so we were all sitting around together, and Mum started weaving and I started with her and just picked it up!

“I thought, ‘This is really nice!’ I was so relaxed and just felt really connected to culture and with myself really.”

“Weaving has really helped me, not only [to] connect with culture but it has been able to help me heal.”

“Going through postnatal depression, and anxiety; along with feeling that loss of connection I think from not living near my family, for me to be able to sit and weave and create has been really nice and has really centred and grounded me.”

Murdock began creating her bespoke woven pieces, starting with earring sets.

“I hadn’t really seen anyone post about weaved earrings, so I put it out there,” she said.

“Next minute, there was this overwhelming response. I got busy on that front filling orders, and that wasn’t the intention at the time—I was just sharing what I had done.

“Around six months after, I just created the business. I started a little Etsy page and things started to grow from there.”

Woven earrings
Murdock began by posting her creations online. Photo via Instagram, @ngumpie_weaving.

Murdock decided on the name Ngumpie Weaving, which pays homage to her grandmother.

Ngumpie in Barkindtji means beautiful. Growing up, my grandmother, who is no longer with us … would also call me ngumpie. And my Pop still does as well,” she said.

“She would always call me ngumpie, or pie for short. Or even Tegy-pie. So that is the name that really stuck out for me … when I was choosing a name for my business and Instagram page.

“I am very spiritually connected to her, so I feel her all the time. I feel her presence while I’m weaving and she’s always sending me messages saying, ‘Keep going with what you are doing. It is needed, so just keep going.’ She is always giving me different ideas to create different pieces.”

Murdock has been experimenting with new ideas and concepts for her work.

“I have such a creative mind, there are always ideas there. I love working with emu feathers and quandong seeds, just creating beautiful pieces from those. But I’m only just getting into dyeing and whatnot … I’m really excited to explore it,” she said.

Murdock incorporates emu feathers and quandong seeds into her work. Photo via Instagram, @ngumpie_weaving.

Since the COVID-19 pandemic emerged, Murdock has found an increased interest in her work.

“It has gone next level with COVID, actually. I had previously been working in schools doing weaving with preschools and things like that. Obviously not the whole basket style with the kids, but different techniques and then running workshops for women as well. But obviously, everything got cancelled,” she said.

“I still wanted to keep everyone connected and to be able to teach everybody. So, one day, I said online classes were available. I hadn’t organised anything, I just put it out there and got an overwhelming response which was awesome.

“I think I put two classes up first and they both sold out, so I put another two and they sold out—it was ongoing after that!”

Adapting to online teaching, Murdock has had the opportunity to work with other businesses and hopes to continue in the future.

“Because I know how relaxing and calming weaving is and that healing sense you feel, I think it is so important for businesses to incorporate that. To bring this to businesses is really what I’d like to do,” she said.

“I’ve done one with Djirra, I have another coming up with them. I just finished a four-week course with Macquarie University with all the Aboriginal students, and the last three days have been with TAFE NSW for Reconciliation Week.”

Tegan Murdock
Tegan Murdock, founder of Ngumpie Weaving. Photo via Instagram, @ngumpie_weaving.

Ngumpie Weaving’s online platforms have been growing daily. The store now has an Instagram following of over 3,000 people.

“It’s been really cool, just every day making connections with awesome people. I’ve formed a really nice bond with a few other Aboriginal women and their businesses; Jarin Street and Earth Blends. We are all bouncing off each other and helping each other which is really nice,” said Murdock.

The business is moving swiftly into the future, growing and attracting more and more opportunities.

“I’d love for it to keep growing and have other women jump on board,” said Murdock.

“We can all branch out and take weaving out into different businesses, into schools. That is my goal, to teach and keep passing this beautiful craft on.”

For more information on Ngumpie Weaving, follow @ngumpie_weaving on Instagram. To shop Murdock’s products, visit: https://www.etsy.com/au/shop/NgumpieWeaving.

By Rachael Knowles