Threads of the past were invoked at a recent weaving workshop held at the Henry Parkes Museum. Ronda Sharpe, a local Wiradjuri environmental artist, conducted a weaving workshop to introduce local community members to this art form.
On display were a considerable number of original woven art works created by Ronda and two stunning, woven artefacts from the museum’s collection. Ronda is working closely with the museum, assisting with the cataloguing of exhibits in textiles and First Nations’ artefacts.
The workshop began with a presentation by Ronda, outlining her journey into weaving. Her original interest was sparked when she began embracing her heritage and First Nations’ culture through experimentation with weaving, using data cables. Since then, her interest has blossomed with Ronda embarking on many studies culminating in achieving her Masters of Visual Arts from Griffith University in Queensland. She has participated in group and solo exhibitions, facilitated workshops and been involved in several professional development projects.
She has a strong connection to Country and believes in respecting and working with nature by looking at and listening to what nature is showing us. ‘Being on Wiradjuri country allows me to connect to my ancestors and Mother Earth who provides me with natural grasses and inspiration.
“My journey of creating contemporary fibre artworks that represent Wiradjuri cultural artefacts, and ‘Yindyamarra’ (respect) for Mother Earth, is evolving.”
Not only does Ronda use natural fibres in her work but she is passionate about recycling, creating ways to use a wide variety of off-cast materials. She has made statement works from coloured electrical and electronic cords and plugs, a large wall weaving using optical cables and aluminium rings, representing Wiradjuri Country and a delicate sphere from spectacles, highlighting the fragility of Mother Earth.
Wherever she travels, Ronda is committed to cleaning up the environment, reusing and recycling whatever she can. Consequently, she collects a range of items and then challenges herself to find creative ways of using the ‘saved’ pieces.
With the workshop being presented in an atmosphere of generous sharing and calmness, participants found the weaving process very relaxing and several left with completed works. From the same starting point, it was amazing to see the variety of shapes and items that emerged, from different shaped baskets to sculptures incorporating emu feathers.
By Kerrie Peden