Amelia Sello was born in South Africa. She began working as a dressmaker at the age of twelve due to financial necessity. Her husband was forced to flee South Africa because of the political situation and in 1976 Amelia followed him to Botswana. In 1984 Amelia and her family arrived at the Enterprise Migrant Hostel in Melbourne, after eight years living as refugees in Botswana and Zimbabwe. During this time Amelia had supported her family by sewing, often selling her goods at markets.
Amelia initially found life in Melbourne difficult and experienced alienation, lack of support, feelings of powerlessness and poor food. She established the African Women's Group as a means of helping fellow African migrants avoid similar initial experiences of life in Australia. The group encompassed a range of African linguistic and cultural groups and many of the craft traditions undertaken by the group were unfamiliar to some of the members. Like many craft groups established along broad lines the work undertaken by the group represents a more generalised form of cultural expression.References
Deborah Tout-Smith & Anna Malgorzewicz (1992). Contemporary Craft and Cultural Identity Project. MoV and Monash Uni History Dept