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MV exhibits Piinpi: Contemporary Indigenous

Izzy Wight, Melbourne Museums’ ‘Piinpi’ exhibition showcases Australia’s first major survey of First Nations fashion, Fashion Journal,

“Woven into these garments is a shared vision for storytelling and continuation of cultural practices.”

For thousands of years, Australia’s First Peoples have been creating art imbued with the colours, shapes and textures of Country. Brought to life by curator Shonae Hobson, Piinpi: Contemporary Indigenous Fashion is a celebration of the new generation of First Nations creatives. Featuring 24 hand-crafted garments by 36 Indigenous artists and designers, Piinpi highlights the rapidly growing First Nations fashion and textile industry.

Coming from across Australia – from the inner city to remote desert art centres – Piinpi brings together artists of all different practices, mediums and backgrounds. After debuting at Bendigo Art Gallery back in 2020, the exhibition travelled to Canberra’s National Museum of Australia, followed by an international tour in Paris and Taiwan. Four years on, Piinpi has returned home and will be showing at Melbourne Museum’s Bunjilaka Aboriginal Cultural Centre from May 28 until November 17, 2024.

The exhibition spotlights the strength and ingenuity of First Nations designers, with an emphasis on the enduring sustainable practices at the centre of their craft. “Indigenous fashion is not a trend but an important movement that has put First People’s creativity at the centre of the global fashion agenda,” says Justice Nelson, Museums Victoria’s Head of First Peoples Experiences. “Woven into these garments is a shared vision for storytelling and continuation of cultural practices.”

The expression ‘piinpi’ comes from Kanichi Thampanyu, or the First Nations people from the East Cape York Peninsula. It’s used to describe seasonal changes and the regeneration of Country over time. “This stunning exhibition is a testament to the creativity and innovation of First Nations designers and artists, and recognition of their significant contributions to the cultural landscape of Australia,” says Museums Victoria CEO and Director, Lynley Crosswell.

Until November 17, Piinpi attendees can take in the work of creatives like First Nations Fashion Design’s Grace Lillian Lee, Yarrenyty Arltere Artists and a special collaboration between Lisa Waup and Melbourne designer, Ingrid Verner. “First Nations artists and designers are expressing their culture and connection to Country in very exciting and bold ways – distinct from anything else being produced around the world – and this is something worth celebrating,” Shonae says.

You can catch Piinpi: Contemporary Indigenous Fashion at Museum Victoria’s Bunjilaka Aboriginal Cultural Centre until November 17. Get your tickets here