Bendigo Art Gallery is delighted that Piinpi: Contemporary Indigenous Fashion opened one week ago at the National Museum of Australia. It is a wonderful honour to have an exhibition developed here in Bendigo presented at a national institution, the result of many months of planning and collaboration between our respective teams.
Swayn Senior Fellow in Australian Design Adrienne Erickson, Bendigo Art Gallery First Nations curator Shonae Hobson and Bendigo Art Gallery director Jessica Bridgfoot. Photo by George Serras, National Museum of Australia
The exhibition launch was attended by The Hon Karen Andrews MP, Federal Minister for Industry, Science and Technology, who drew the comparison between the fashion and resources sectors in terms of the number of people employed. Minister Andrews commended the First Nations fashion movement for their emphasis on sustainability and highlighted the opportunities presented for women’s entrepreneurship.
In his opening speech, National Museum Director Dr Matthew Trinca warmly congratulated Curator Shonae Hobson and the Bendigo Art Gallery team for the outstanding realisation of Piinpi, the first major survey of contemporary Indigenous fashion in Australia. Shonae also spoke passionately about working with artists and designers across the country to bring First Nations voices to the front in a global conversation about Indigenous knowledge and innovation, sustainability and care for Country, and fashion as a powerful means of cultural connection and exchange.
Bendigo Art Gallery First Nations curator Shonae Hobson who created Piinpi: Contemporary Indigenous Fashion. Photo by George Serras, National Museum of Australia
The opportunity to bring Piinpi to Canberra was possible thanks to the efforts and support of The Alistair Swayn Foundation and their Inaugural Senior Fellow, Adrienne Erickson, who are working towards the creation of a new curatorial centre within the National Museum. The Swayn Centre for Australian Design will present diverse collections and collaborations to increase the public connection to and appreciation of Australian design in its many forms. Adrienne has also commissioned some fantastic new Piinpi merchandise now available in the National Museum Shop!
The launch of the exhibition in Canberra was a fitting celebration to farewell Shonae as she departs Bendigo to pursue an exciting new chapter in her career. Over the last few years, Shonae has led the development of several major exhibitions, contributed to expansion of the Gallery’s permanent collection of First Nations contemporary art, shaped the establishment of a new Australian Fashion Collection, and built strong relationships with friends and colleagues locally and beyond. The team at the Gallery and the wider Bendigo community wish Shonae all the very best for the future!
Piinpi: Contemporary Indigenous Fashion is open daily at the National Museum of Australia until 8 August 2021.