With the launch of their debut collection, Red Ridge the Label is shining a spotlight on Central Western Aboriginal artists.
The inaugural collection Diamantina was designed by proud Wangkangurru and Yarluyandi women Anpanuwa ‘Joyce’ Crombie and Aulpunda ‘Jean’ Barr-Crombie, and named after the region where the artists grew up.
The patterns featured on the lush silk, rayon and linen blends reflect the artists’ deep love for their Country, exhibiting a deep connection to heritage and ceremony.
The artists, also known as Two Sisters Talking, said their artwork tells stories told by their parents and communicates important teachings to the younger generation.
“This is our way of teaching the younger generation. They learn from us. Our language is our art,” said Barr-Crombie.
“If we don’t pass our culture on to our young ones, we will lose it.”
Reflecting on the significance of the collection, Crombie said the artists’ work is “based around Country and Birdsville, and how the people lived years ago from what our mother taught us”.
“We are so passionate about our Country,” she said.
“To have these stories on different materials, and even a catwalk, means so much to us. We are telling our stories through our artwork and these dresses—that is a first for us,” added Barr-Crombie.
Red Ridge the Label is an initiative by Red Ridge Interior Queensland, a non-profit arts organisation that builds, fosters and preserves community through the arts in Central Western Queensland.
Louise Campbell, Manager of Red Ridge Interior Queensland, said the label will involve artists from different regions across the Red Ridge area, covering areas from Mount Isa to Thargomindah.
To assist in the production, the artists teamed up with Brisbane fashion designer Laura Gangemi and fashion producer Laura Churchill.
The collection features two exquisite silk prints: Children’s Playground, created by Barr-Crombie, reflects a gathering place for children when older generations engaged in their ceremonies, while Pathways and Camps, created by Crombie, displays the importance of passing on spiritual knowledge by travelling on pathways to camps.
The line features six womenswear styles, with options including the artists’ prints or plain linens. A range of accessories including scarves, woven bags, natural stone beaded necklaces and keyrings complete the collection.
“We’re passionate about ensuring authenticity throughout all areas of the label, which includes having garments and accessories made locally,” Campbell said.
Red Ridge the Label’s highly exclusive Diamantina collection is available to purchase via redridgethelabel.com.au. Prices range from $350 to $450.
By Imogen Kars