'Bogan' has become a byword in this country for everything deemed uncultured, but there are those who think its negative connotations are unfair.
Wellington-based textiles designer Su Lousick is one of them. At the Darwin Aboriginal Art Fair on Tuesday, her ‘Bogan Original’ collection was witnessed in full flight.
Lousick said she wants to call into question how 'bogan' has become synonymous with what she describes as “ugly” and imposing.
“I produced the work to reclaim the word bogan," she said.
"It’s turned into something less than beautiful. I wanted to illustrate that us mob up from the Bogan River are [in-fact] quite beautiful."
Lousick says reclaiming the word is an act of decolonisation. So too is her focus on using sustainable processes and materials, like native fibres.
“I want everything that I produce to be a reflection of what comes from the natural world so that hopefully in the long run, when people look at landscapes, they can actually see that they’re living [with] things that need to be protected, so that we can all enjoy them on an everyday basis”, she said.
'We were all in tears'
Lousick describes the process of developing the collection as a cross-cultural collaboration between mob from the “inside country” (Wellington) and Brewarrina in the outback.
The Brewarrina crew provided the dinawan (emu), which they ate together, and later its feathers were used in constructing garments, along with the native plant spiney sedge from the Bogan River.
Reflecting on the night Lousick pointed to the pride she felt in seeing Wiradjuri living art on the runway, and called for more Western NSW mob to be establishing spaces to share and create.
“We were all in tears, because it's the first time we really felt proud about reclaiming that word Bogan.
"My mob was sitting there feeling proud to come from the Bogan River. That was a very precious moment in time for me and for them.”
Indigenous expression meets high end fashion
Described as a ‘must do on the Australia Fashion calendar’, Country to Couture is presented by Indigenous Fashion Projects.
The two-part show brings together a diverse group of Indigenous artists and collaborators, such as House of Darwin and creative Bobbi Lockyer. They'll work with local and invited culture and arts centres, like Yolŋu Gapuwiyak in Arnhem land and the Saltwater Freshwater Alliance from the Mid-north Coast of NSW.
Supported by the Northern Territory government, the annual event that has been running for the past six years is a place where contemporary fine art and high-end fashion collide in a colourful showcase of wearable art.
“Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander fashion, art and design is well and truly having a moment," said proud Eastern Arrernte visual artist and Darwin Aboriginal Art Fair Foundation Artist Director, Shilo McNamee.
"Yet there is still more to be done in advancing capability and capacity."
Commenting on the significance of events like Country to Couture that put Indigenous fashion and design at the forefront, Queer Ngarluma, Kariyarra, Nyulnyul and Yawuru artist Bobbi Lockyer said there is much to be learnt from Indigenous creative expression.
"I’m so incredibly proud to work alongside such talented Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander creatives and play a part in bringing more attention to this under-represented industry.”