State Library of Queensland is hosting Art of the Skins, a large-scale exhibition revitalising the age-old craft of possum skin cloak making by Indigenous community members.
State Library of Queensland is hosting Art of the Skins, a large-scale exhibition in the age-old craft of cloak making by indigenous artisans. Initiated by Wathaurung woman Carol McGregor and Taungwurrung-Yorta Yorta woman Glennys Briggs, Art of the Skins invites visitors to explore the beauty, tradition and artistry of possum skin cloaks through contemporary community works. Six intricately decorated and meticulously stitched together cloaks made from possum skins form the cornerstone of the exhibition, which reveals rich stories about Indigenous communities, past and present. Inspired by a practice last known to be active around 150 years ago, the cloaks were created with the help of more than 120 Indigenous artists and community members using a combination of contemporary and traditional techniques. Researcher Carol McGregor, who coordinated the cloak making workshops, said the project came about after creating and wearing her family’s possum skin cloak as a way to connect to her great grandmother. Exhibition curator Freja Carmichael, a descendant of the Ngugi people, Quandamooka Country, said the cloaks form an important oral history for Aboriginal communities. The possum skin cloaks will be gifted back to the communities who created them at a ceremony held after the exhibition closes. Possum skins used in the project are ethically sourced from New Zealand. Art of the Skins will be on display in SLQ gallery and kuril dhagun at State Library of Queensland from June to November.