Summary

Kunwinjku women in western Arnhem Land distinguish baskets made with the coiling technique by the term 'badjkid'. Coiling was introduced into Arnhem Land in the 1920s by the Methodist missionary, Gretta Matthews, who taught Aboriginal women living at the Goulburn Island Mission. Close links between the Maung people of Goulburn and Kunwinjku people on the mainland opposite meant that knowledge of the coiling technique spread and became a well established practice amongst Aboriginal women of western Arnhem Land. Today the coil bundle technique is central to the repertoire of techniques used by Aboriginal women in basket making across Arnhem Land.

This basket has been open coiled with dyed and undyed pandanus and made with a circular flat base. The split coil handles are attached to the rim of the basket on opposite sides and are stitched together in the centre, a technique called berldjinduluburrinj. It was collected for the exhibition 'Twined Together' that was developed by Museum Victoria with Injalak Arts and Crafts and toured nationally from 2004 to 2006.

Physical Description

Basket, coiled, with dyed and undyed pandanus with a circular flat base. It has open coiling structure and is multicoloured (mainly green with dark browns and orange). Two coil handles are attached to the rim of the basket on opposite sides and are stitched together in the centre.

Local Name

badjkid

Significance

This basket exhibits the style of coiled baskets made historically by Aboriginal women in southeastern Australia. The missionary Gretta Matthews is thought to have learned the coil-bundle technique from Ngarrindjeri women of the lower Murray in South Australia during the period beginning in 1899 when she and her mother Janet conducted ministry work at Metco and Manunka Missions near Mannum. Matthews would have also been familiar with coiled baskets made by Aboriginal women elsewhere on the Murray River having grown up at Maloga Mission in New South Wales and Cummeragunja Aboriginal Station in Victoria. These were established by her father Daniel Matthews (1837-1902) in 1870 and 1883 respectively. The styles created by the Yorta Yorta, Bangerang and Wiradjiri women are evident in contemporary practice of Kunwinjku women today, like this basket by Jill Nganmirra. The distinctive rigid coiled handle form stitched in the centre is sometimes referred to by them as 'old style' and is known as 'berldjinduluburrinj'. Its use by Jill Nganmirra reflects her own personal and close family ties to Maung people of Goulburn Island, where the coil bundle technique was taught to the women by Gretta Matthews in the 1920s. Matthews instructed the women in this technique by using samples of baskets from Echuca on the Murray River in Victoira, and these are in the collections of the South Australian Museum. Jill is one of the major fibre artists represented by Injalak Arts and Crafts at Gunbalanya, and was the assistant curator for the exhibition, Twined Together which featured this work. She worked under the direction and in close collaboration with Dr Louise Hamby of the ANU in this and in the selection of works for the Injalak Fibre Collection. Jill is one of four daughters of artist Spider Namirrki, and her other sisters Marlene Burrunali, Betty Namarnyilk and Leanne Guymala are also fibre artists whose work is featured in the Indigenous collections at Museum Victoria.

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