Lorraine Connelly-Northey / Waradgerie people / Australia b.1962 / O’possum-skin cloak 2005 / Galah feathers on wire /  67 x 110 x 7.5cm / The James C. Sourris AM Collection / Gift of James C. Sourris through the Queensland Art Gallery Foundation 2011 / Donated through the Australian Government’s Cultural Gifts Program / Collection: Queensland Art Gallery | Gallery of Modern Art / © Lorraine Connelly-Northey

Lorraine Connelly-Northey
O’possum-skin cloak 2005

Not Currently on Display

Lorraine Connelly-Northey first learnt to weave using natural fibres under the guidance of senior South Australian Aboriginal weaver Yvonne Koolmatrie. Although she had originally intended to use traditional plant material, she felt uncomfortable about taking grasses from land that was not her mother’s country. Instead, she decided to recycle discarded materials and found objects. She uses these in an eco-centric approach to creating sculptural pieces that symbolise traditional Aboriginal lifestyle.

Here, she recreates a possum-skin cloak, iconic of the Aboriginal cultures of south-eastern Australia. The patchwork found on the traditional cloaks is mirrored by the structure of the work’s rusted metal frame, while patterns from the inside of the cloak are reflected here in pink galah feathers.

Of Waradgerie and Irish descent, Lorraine Connelly-Northey was born in Swan Hill, in north-west Victoria, where she continues to live and work.

Her approach to basket-making blends skills and attitudes inherited from both parents: the resourcefulness and thriftiness of her Irish father, and the traditional weaving practice inspired by her Aboriginal mother. Connelly-Northey replaces traditional weaving materials with found objects — metal wire and sheets of rusted iron, as well as feathers, stone, wood, bone and shells.

Connelly-Northey recreates the material culture of her ancestors while retaining the beauty of the original material, and in doing so celebrates the resilience and the strength of Aboriginal people.