“What we are having is a contemporary workshop inspired by tradition and local practices run by people in the local area.”
Ms Johnson, a Wailwan woman raised in Newcastle, said the region had a rich history of Aboriginal fibre arts.
‘Weaving was part of everyday; everybody learnt to weave,” Mrs Johnson said. “Boys and girls learnt from a really young age.
“Everyone could weave, they could make something or fix something.
“There were also master weavers … people who were really good at teaching. You could tell their particular style, because they would use a particular pigment or stitch.”
“From my understanding, there were 16 different techniques across Australia. The techniques varied due to the objects they were making, but also the materials.”
In the Newcastle area, Awabakal country, the most common materials for weaving were lomandra, sedge and stringy bark.
“Stringy bark trees were all over and you would strip the inner new growth of the bark and make a rope,” Mrs Johnson said. “You would use that to make fishing lines, bird nets … it was also used for dilly bags.”
Awabakal used ochre, roots and seeds to dye the raw materials, Ms Johnson said.
Workshops dates: Aboriginal weaving, March 3; Aboriginal art appreciation, April 7; Aboriginal dance, May 5; canoe building, June 2; contemporary graphic art and painting, July 7.
All workshops are free, and are funded by Newcastle City Council.
For workshop times and information check the website: theolivetreemarket.com.au