Reclaiming our narrative: WEAVE festival presents an immersion in culture

23 Mar 2018

The WEAVE Festival has been running throughout the month of March at the Australian Museum, inviting a new interpretation of the large collections of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander and Pacific artefacts held by the Museum.


Fleur Magick Dennis (singing) Laurance Magick Dennis (smoking)                   Photographer: Milan Dhiiyaan

Featuring workshops on Aboriginal meditation, the opening of a new exhibition ‘Gadi’ exploring the original place names of Sydney, the Gadigal people and a virtual reality documentary, the WEAVE Festival has been running throughout the month of March at the Australian Museum, inviting a new interpretation of the large collections of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander and Pacific artefacts held by the Museum.

Wailwan and Kooma woman and First Nations Creative Producer at the Australian Museum, Laura McBride spoke to IndigenousX about the development and importance of this month long festival. “Although we have programming throughout the year, having our own festival allows us to provide a platform for more Aboriginal and Pacific peoples to represent themselves and their culture and interpret their own cultural material held onsite at the Museum.  WEAVE was chosen as the title because as a metaphor, it illustrates the aim of what the festival aims to achieve and that is – First Nations people representing themselves, weaving their knowledge and experiences with our visitors to build a better shared future.” She said.

putuwa: language spoken on Gadigal land

Before our city was called Sydney, it was known as Gadi. This month our Indigenous staff are inviting you to learn some language spoken on Gadigal land as part of #Weave. : Justine Kerrigan © Stella Stories

Posted by Australian Museum on Tuesday, 6 March 2018

Aboriginal knowledge has always been passed along in an immersive and active way, and the aim of the festival was to continue this tradition by moving away from Western ways of learning by offering people the chance to experience rather than just view and discuss culture.

“Culture is taught through doing, knowledge exchange and experiences. We are trying to move our programming away from western ways of learning and frame them in holistic learning models that have been used for generations by our ancestors.” Said McBride.

Francis Williams
Photographer: Joshua Flavell © Carriberrie PTY LTD

Weaving workshops, Aboriginal meditation and a new virtual reality documentary are all hands on features that will leave visitors with an embodied understanding of culture.

“The WEAVE festival features Aboriginal cultural meditation, weaving workshops and demonstrations that our visitors can actively participate in.

Learning that involves tangible elements and an exchange between the guest and cultural practitioner creates a more genuine experience that resonates with people longer than learning something in a lecture theatre. It is hoped that over time, people learning about Aboriginal culture from Aboriginal people may mitigate the stereotypes that seem to be so embedded in the minds of mainstream Australia.” McBride says.

Carriberrie, a new virtual reality documentary is an exciting feature of the festival which takes the viewer on to country to experience Aboriginal song and dance up close.

McBride explains the benefit of this kind of technology. “As song and dance belongs to Country or particular tracts of land, VR is allowing us to take people to these locations to experience them where they belong.  Carriberrie was shot in some of our land’s most stunning locations, from the Central Desert to Byron Bay, it’s one that shouldn’t be missed.”

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A preview of Carriberrie in 360˚

Step inside this 360° taster of Carriberrie – a new virtual reality experience showcasing astounding Australian locations and performances, narrated by screen legend David Gulpilil. Playing until 27 March. Book now:

Posted by Australian Museum on Monday, 5 March 2018

Historically Museums that hold such large collections of First Nations objects also have the control over the narrative they are presenting. McBride says that reclaiming control of these narratives is crucial in impacting the way that we are represented on many levels in society.

“Museums are sites of authority on facts and research illustrates that at different points throughout history, how Indigenous peoples are represented in Museums directly controls their social agency. Given that how we have been represented within Museums has helped create or reinforce our current socio-economic status, it’s very important to get this representation right.”

With this in mind, the 2017-2020 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander strategy at the Australian Museum will be focusing on embedding systems  that ensure more collaboration from community and in particular community elders.

“Our Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Strategy for 2017-2020 that will be announced this Thursday will embed systems within the Museum that ensures collaboration with Aboriginal peoples in how they are represented and what is represented. This strategy covers all the Museum from the management, marketing, exhibitions and the Museums science division.

This should mean over time, that when Aboriginal culture is exhibited, programmed or showcased at the Museum that it is always done under the guidance of Elders and in partnership with those communities being represented.”

To see the full program or book your tickets go to:

WEAVE Runs until the 31st of March.

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