“It was a great experience to learn a new way of sewing something together I never did before. I was proud to see my artwork displayed in the Melbourne museum at Bunjilaka. It was a fabulous event because I built my knowledge on my culture and was able to understand why it’s important to know about this so I’m able to teach others to do the same.” – 11-year old participant
In 2013 VACCA children and young people in metropolitan Melbourne learnt about the southeast Australian Aboriginal cultural practice of creating possum skin cloaks. They created two possum skin cloaks through a series of workshops under the guidance of Banmirra Arts artist Vicky Couzens a Keerray Woorrroong woman from the Western Districts of Victoria and Wiradjari and Yorta Yorta Elder, Aunty Esther Kirby.
The possum skin cloak created by children with artist Vicki Couzens at VACCA’s 2011 possum skin cloak workshops. The 2013 Possum Skin Cloak Project will be a more extensive experience for the children and young people involved, with two possum skin cloaks produced through more workshops.
The Possum Skin Cloak project supports the children to:
- learn about the importance of the past uses of cloaks and the role they played in the lives of Aboriginal people
- learn the meaning of symbols and designs and significance of the stories cloaks tell of people’s connection to country and community
- understand the use and meaning of cloaks today and builds their knowledge of the history of their ancestors
Possum skin cloaks are one of the most sacred cultural expressions of south eastern Aboriginal peoples. Aboriginal people throughout south-eastern and western Australia wore skin cloaks, as these areas were colder than the northern parts of Australia. The cloaks were made from the skins of possums, kangaroos and wallabies. The cloaks had many uses including to keep warm, to cradle babies, to sleep on or under, for ceremony, for a drum, for burial and to share stories and language through the designs. (http://www.miromaa.org.au/Culture/Possum-Skin-Cloaks-History.html)
Today, creating possum skin cloaks is an important part of reviving cultural practice.
This project is made possible through the financial support of the Australian Council for the Arts Community Partnerships program, the John T Reid Charitable Trusts and The Indigenous Cultural Support Program. Learn more about VACCA’s supporters and how you can support our work.
For further information, contact Sarah Diplock, VACCA Cultural Programs Coordinator:
Telephone: 03 9287 8800