Murrumbidgee Regional High School

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Piper Stewart Qualifies for Art Express

Piper Stewart Art Express

Congratulations to student Piper Stewart, who managed to qualify for Art Express with her beautiful and intricate woven dillybags and baskets.

Art Express is an annual exhibition of artworks curated from visual arts students for the HSC examination. The exhibition is limited exclusively to the crème de la crème of HSC major works.

A proud Indigenous woman, Piper’s work Woven Together, My Culture, Our History explores themes like colonisation, traditional practices and connecting to ancestors. The collection consists of 18 pieces that were handwoven by Piper using traditional and modern fibres and processes.

The craft of weaving was passed down to Piper by her own mother and aunt who had the practice passed down to them. While on a holiday in the Northern Territory, she also had the opportunity to participate in workshops where she had the opportunity to explore different approaches to the traditional craft.

A huge formative moment for Piper’s piece was visiting a touring exhibition to see her own ancestor’s woomera behind glass. The young artist decided to explore the nature of artifacts like these in British collections that had been “gifted, sold, exchanged and bartered by Indigenous people, and accepted, bought, collected and taken by travellers, colonists, explorers, missionaries, officials and others”.

The fact that many of these artefacts are stored deep in archives, rarely see the light of day and are often poorly understood, Piper believes, is an example of yet another way Aboriginal culture has been mistreated since colonisation. The shadow of this insult haunts her work, literally.

“It is very exciting,” explains Piper’s art teacher Doerinda Gardner, “I’ve been here for 40 years and this would be the third time in my career one of my students would have been accepted into art express.”

“I think Piper’s exceptionally diligent,” Ms Gardner adds, “She’s extremely self-motivated and driven, but she’s always open to advice which is a rare thing. It’s obviously a great recipe for success, because she’s done so well in all aspects of her life.”

Well done on this outstanding achievement, Piper! Amazing work!