Sonja Carmichael / Ngugi people of Quandamooka, Minjerribah (North Stradbroke Island) / Australia b.1958 / Deranji Dabayil (Rocky place, healing waters): Baskets of Culture 2017 / Commercial raffia and ghost net strands / Dimensions varied / Commissioned 2017. Queensland Art Gallery / Collection: Queensland Art Gallery | Gallery of Modern Art / © Sonja Carmichael

Sonja Carmichael
Deranji Dabayil (Rocky place, healing waters): Baskets of Culture 2017

On Display: QAG, Gallery 10

In Deranji Dabayil (Rocky place, healing waters): Baskets of Culture, Sonja Carmichael has woven 50 small baskets, using commercial raffia integrated with fine strands of unraveled ghost nets and fishing lines. Her jewel-like baskets belie their unlikely origins to evoke impressions of the clear salt water, the warmth of the sand and brilliant sunrises. Carmichael sees her commentary on environmental degradation in the reuse of ghost nets, as a metaphor for the renewal and revaluing that is possible for her people.

Sonja Carmichael works specifically in the medium of fibre basketry and woven sculptures, reflecting her family’s cultural connections with the land and seas of Minjerribah (North Stradbroke Island).

She draws inspiration from the many stories connected to Quandamooka traditional woven bags and also explores materials and techniques for a contemporary aesthetic. She uses lost and discarded items that wash up on Minjerribah’s shoreline, particularly ‘ghost’ nets and fishing lines which she unravels and integrates into new forms. These works directly respond to concerns about the preservation of the natural environment by transforming the discarded materials into functional and contemporary artworks.

Carmichael is an active member of her community, sharing her weaving skills and passing on her knowledge.