Read in: French
The «Babbarra Women Centre» is located in the middle of Maningrida, an Aboriginal community in the top end of Australia. Run by Julia Harrys, the centre is home to talented textile designers and seamstresses. It’s here that all the famous Maningrida fabrics are hand-printed. I decided to visit this centre for the quality of the designs, often very thin, refined and sometime minimalistic.
Here are the 3 main activities we find at the Babbarra Women Centre :
-Framed Screen Printing. On entering the centre, I am instantly impressed by the huge table sitting in the middle of the main room. All year round, on this table, they would print endless lengths of fabric to be sold in the shop of the centre or in major cities of the country.
-Lino print or lino cut. It was the main activity of the artists. You start by cutting into the surface of the linoleum block (a rubber-like texture) using a small cutting knife. Then, you roll some pigment onto the surface of the block before simply applying the painted surface directly onto the fabric, in exactly the same way you would use a stamp. The women over there repeat their patterns to cover tens and hundreds of meters of fabric all over, playing with different coloured layers. The technique is simple and the result is stunning.
-Sewing. A beautiful space is dedicated to several sewing and serger machines. Here, the seamstresses make all the by-products out of the fabric produced at the centre, which include womenswear, small bags and patchwork linens.
Everybody works in a calm and relaxed atmosphere, the radio hums Aboriginal, British and American songs all day long. (Talking of songs, if you’d like to hear an Aboriginal song, here is a recommendation from one of the employee’s at the centre. The group is called Yothu Yindi: here!).
And don’t forget to take a look at Babbarra’s website here.