“It’s 100 per cent Yarrabah. We’re very proud of that.”Ashkyn Skeene says she had questions about The Voice.(ABC Far North: Conor Byrne)
It takes a village
Model and ecologist Ashlyn Skeene, a Yirrganydji woman living on Gunggandji country, said she was initially reluctant to volunteer for the project because of her own uncertainty about the Voice referendum.
Ms Skeene said that was until her mother and community changed her mind.
“ She put into my head how old people did fight for our right to vote,” she said.
“If I didn’t vote yes, it’d be silencing our old people.
“I have respect for my old people. I know they did a lot for me to get where we are today as Aboriginal people.”
Yarrabah, an hour’s drive south-east of Cairns, is Queensland’s largest Indigenous community with an official population of about 2,500.
It sits between the rainforest and the coral sea and is the traditional country of the Gunggandji and Yidinji people.
But it has a complex history stemming from its decades being run as an Anglican mission, during which time Indigenous people were either forcibly removed to, or from, Yarrabah.
Ms Arnol, who is also Yarrabah Museum’s curator, said the impact of rules and regulations dating back to the late 1890s could still be felt in her community.
“Number 41 of those rules and regulations was that our old people weren’t allowed to speak language,” she said.
“They had to learn how to speak English.
“That in itself is taking away culture and silencing them.
“The Yes vote would just be acknowledging our old peoples’ struggle and giving them a voice.”
Yarrabah Mayor Ross Andrews sees an Indigenous Voice to Parliament as complementing local government.
“But also complement existing organisations’ voices, because it can amplify the voices of all of us,” mayor Andrews said.
Ms Skeene said she hoped a Yes vote would lead to meaningful change in Yarrabah on big issues such as crime, unemployment and housing.
“That will be the best thing at the moment, moving forward as Aboriginal people with the Western ways as it is now,” she said.
#AceNewsDesk – When Nat Dann started her brand Ihraa last year, her goal was to showcase her designs as part of New York Fashion Week: Exactly two months from now, the Bardi, Nyul Nyul and Nyikina woman’s dream will come true as her swimwear will hit the runway on New York’s Varick Street building rooftop.
She is not the only West Australian designer, with fellow Pilbara creator and Ngarluma, Kariyarra, Nyul Nyul and Yawuru woman Bobbi Lockyer also chosen to showcase her clothes.
For Ms Dann, the opportunity to showcase her Pilbara and Kimberley-inspired designs on the international stage is synonymous with the increasing popularity of Indigenous fashion overseas.
Wonnarua woman Amanda Healy’s label has been making an impact in Europe.
Her business model is based on buying Aboriginal artwork and transforming it into printed fabric.
“It’s important for our people to be seen and heard,” she says.
Over the years, Ms Healy has worked with more than 16 artists — with the money she makes going back into the community.
Demand since BLM
Perth-based Indigenous designer, Teagen (TJ) Cowlishaw has family ties with the Nyikina, Bardi and Nyul Nyul people. Her label, AARLI, a word in Bardi language that means fish, has been in demand across Australia.
Ms Cowlishaw says the demand for Indigenous designs has increased since the Black Lives Matter movement.
The Australian Fashion Council were not able to provide statistics on Indigenous design sales, however, local designers say the anecdotal evidence speaks for itself.
“It has absolutely boomed especially in the past five years,” Ms Cowlishaw says.
“You can see not only with the collaborations coming out weekly, but just that yearning from not only the industry but the consumers for First Nations content.”
For Nat Dann, New York Fashion Week is a huge boost to her confidence as a relatively new designer.
“I have my moments of doubt … whether what I’m doing and what I’m putting out there is good, but to see that it’s being noticed is just confirmation that my work is good,” she says.
“I’ve made myself and my family proud and I want to be able to put the Kimberley and the Pilbara on the map for that as well.”
The two West Australian designers will showcase their Indigenous art designs at the Flying Solo ‘Ones to Watch’ Runway in front of an audience of 16 million people, both online and offline.
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Laura Lipton, a seriously accomplished crossdresser, walks down a street in central Paris What is it about crossdressing that animates in every culture or society I am aware of, today in particular but also back through much history ? What is it ? What moves those who do it, to do it ? I […]
#AceHistoryReport – Dec.18: It is no wonder, therefore, that there was a thriving black market for second-hand clothing of dubious provenance; much of the clothing worn by the middling and working classes essentially ‘fell off a cart’.
#AceHistoryDesk News Report: Crimes of Fashion: A toxic heavy metal, mercury causes damage to the nervous system and can feel like insects are crawling beneath the skin. Burs baked the poison into a milk posset (which often contained spices and alcohol that might have masked the bitter taste), planning to kill her mistress. She believed that if the lady of the house were dead, she herself might get better clothing. By Sophie Shorland
The simplest kind of coat cost £1, which was 20 days’ labour for a skilled tradesman. Clothes were sometimes mentioned first in a will, since they could be more expensive than a house. Even the well-off, such as Samuel Pepys, remade and refashioned existing garments as much as they could rather than buying new.
The web of how such things were acquired could become extremely complex, as tinkers hawked both new and second-hand wares, and items were passed on or exchanged – not to mention the markets that thrived on the clothing trade. To supply the country’s insatiable demand for new clothes, thieves might strip drunk people on their way home from a night out, force doors, or even tear down walls. In urban areas in 17th-century England stolen clothes accounted for the most prosecutions of any crime. It was rare for anyone to commit (or attempt to commit) murder over an item of clothing, but the motivations for stealing were broad. Often, they were crimes of opportunity: freshly washed linen hung out to dry on hedges, awaiting capture from any passer-by.
Some thefts, however, were more complicated, involving acting and the tricks of the con-artist’s trade. One cold winter’s night (since it was the little ice age, every winter’s night was cold), a teenage boy was sent on a simple errand. All he had to do was take some clothes – valued at about £4, no small sum – and deliver them to a gentleman across the city. Passing along Watling Street, a woman stopped him and demanded his name, his mother’s name, where he lived and what his errand was. He answered her questions and continued along his journey. Meanwhile, the woman passed all this information on to her partner-in-crime, who set off after the boy, hailing him by name and speaking of his mother. She asked him to buy a shoulder of mutton for her while she waited with the clothes. The boy did so, but returned to find no woman and no clothes. Such operations would have been immensely profitable and difficult to trace, as the stolen goods would have been sold on to the second-hand clothes dealers who supplied the whole country.
No member of society was safe from the theft of clothes. Perhaps the best-loved, and certainly one of the best-known, celebrities of the Elizabethan period (as well as being Elizabeth I’s personal jester) was the clown Richard Tarlton, known for his witty comebacks and cheeky persona. One night, while Tarlton was downstairs at an inn, wearing only his shirt and nightgown, drinking with some musician friends, a thief crept into his room and stole all his clothes. The story travelled around London to great hilarity and the clown was publicly mocked when he next performed onstage. However, Tarlton had the somewhat macabre last laugh, responding to the crowd with one of the impromptu verses that made him famous. He declared,
When that the theefe shall Pine and lacke, Then shall I have cloathes to my backe: And I, together with my fellowes, May see them ride to Tiborne Gallowes.
Those caught stealing clothes were frequently hanged at Tyburn, known as ‘Tyburn tree’. (Executions were supposed to deter thieving.) Spending their last night at Newgate prison, they would be paraded through the streets in a horse and cart before a boisterous crowd, all jostling for the best view of the condemned and hanging on the thief’s last words. Ironically, the events were prime sites for pickpockets.
While clothing could be the motive for theft or murder because it was so difficult to come by, an accurate description by a witness of the perpetrator’s clothing could secure a conviction. For example, after Francis Terry stole wheat from a barn in 1626 he left a distinctive footprint that made identifying him easy. The print showed three indentations mapped to three nails on the sole of Terry’s right boot.
After other crimes, witnesses recalled a man in a red coat, wearing a hat with a hole in it, or dressed in grey clothes. Since many people only had one or two outfits, this was seen as positive proof and helped secure a conviction. Finally, in close communities where word of mouth was paramount, any change in clothing could arouse suspicion. Mary Watts gave the game away after allegedly stealing a silver bowl and some clothing, since she bought herself new clothes with the profits, to the shock of the community around her.
People in the 16th and 17th centuries had a relationship with clothing that is difficult to comprehend in an age of fast fashion, where clothes change with the seasons and any change in identity is instantly worn on the body. But, for early modern people, fashion was just as connected to identity. Most could not afford to change their clothes often, but their outfits became part of how they were seen and how they saw themselves. A change of clothing could provoke anger, hilarity, or even thoughts of murder.