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From time to time Fabric of Life have special events or participate in public events relating to handmade textiles and textile conservation. Join our mailing list or stay in touch through Facebook.


November 2019


This workshop aims to introduce weavers to the challenge of weaving both flat and tubular fabrics in fine wire.

Tablet weaving is particularly suited to wire, and we will explore a variety of techniques to help manage the peculiarities of weaving metal and to see which ones give the most interesting effects.

Students will learn to set up a warp using tablets and wire and after weaving a sample will design and make two bangles: one in a flat and the other in a tubular weave.



September 12 2019


Fiona and Mary will discuss their mutual love of India as a travel destination and the handcrafted textiles of India. The textiles of India vary from region to region and old traditions and new designers coexist and thrive through the interconnection of the past and future.


The full range of Love Travel Guides will be available for purchase.

Fabric of Life will present a new range of Indian textiles for sale on the night . The exhibition will continue until early November to co-incide with the Oz Asia Festival.

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Textures Exhibition by Susan Chenery.

SALA 2019

6 to 31 August 2019

Texture when applied to visual art can be actual, simulated, abstract or invented.  My work uses texture to evoke a visual “feel” in the observer.


I would go further than that. There is texture in every aspect of our visual life and it is in the every day.  It could be the patterns of the clouds, the brightness of the Sun or straining to see if there really is a Man in the Moon. 


I have for a long time been fascinated by the sociological determinants of our world, but I am also drawn to whimsy and history be it personal or public. It is probably a rare universality for every artist, that there must be enough desire to carry an idea of a work through from its inception, to it’s completion.


The work I have for you to see is based on animals in our world.  They are caught in the wrong place from seasonal or geographical perspectives due to our changing climate affecting the habitats of all species.

A number of works are animals drawn for the sake of their beauty, looking cute in their own frames.


To underline the use of texture, many works have been painted on a different surface texture be it rough cold pressed watercolour paper, wood, raffia, sea grass, embossed paper or wallpaper.  I have also included pieces that include texture applied on top of the work such as the Black Cockatoo.  Alternatively texture has been applied to a smooth surface in the form of patterns.


The work also draws my attention to the life changing effects of waste plastic on our animal world and the beauty they display despite this intrusion - this is right in your face, not easy to see and not easy to forget.



17th May until 30th June 2019

The Fabric of Life has relocated to a new Gallery and Studio space located at 263 Gilbert St, Adelaide.

The exhibition and studio will be opened by Dr Jane Lomax Smith AM, Chair of the South Australian Museum Board and a Director of Adelaide's iconic Jam Factory Centre for Contemporary Craft and Design on Thursday 16th May 2019

We are celebrating our move with a follow up to our 2005 exhibition Suzani: Splendid silks with Textiles of the Old Silk Road celebrating textiles and other artefacts found in the Central Asian countries that were once an integral part of the trade of the Old Silk Road. The exhibition will include Suzani embroidered wall hangings and cushions, handcrafted silk, velvet and cotton ikat cushions, robes and antique handcrafted bowls.


In the study of textiles, we can see the influence of the silk road in the sharing of design, materials, and techniques of manufacture and cultural importance. Not least is the use of silk as the preferred fibre for high quality and culturally significant textiles across the vast region of its influence.

The Silk Road was an ancient network of trade routes that connected the East and West extending from China in the East to Turkey and further into Southern Europe in the West. It was central to cultural interaction between nations for many centuries. The Silk Road derives its name from the lucrative trade in silk. Trade on the Road opened long-distance political and economic relations between the civilizations along its route. Though silk was the major trade item exported from China, many other goods were traded as well as ideas, technology, religions, and science. In addition to economic trade, the Silk Road was a route for cultural trade among the civilizations along its routes.

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19 May 2018 form 2 to 4.30


Come along to Urrbrae House and join our History Week event. Enjoy the gardens and tour around this historic house.

Don’t know how to look after that antique shawl or tapestry? Then bring your special textile object to Urrbrae House. Mary Jose, world-renowned textiles expert from Fabric of Life, will be available to give free advice on how best to conserve, restore and/or display your treasured heirloom. Mary has served notable museums, galleries, private institutions and collectors in Australia, Asia and Europe. She has undertaken textile conservation in Urrbrae House for the past two decades.

Further Information

visit website

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29 March to 29 July 2018


Textile conservation treatments undertaken by Fabric of Life for 
Age of Elegance, Ayers House Museum, Adelaide

Ayers House was the home of Henry Ayers, the eight premeier of South Australia. A successful business man, he and his wife Jane entertained in lavish style at Ayers House.

Acclaimed costumier Marion Boyce (Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries, The Dressmaker) has created a unique experience with more than 40 authentic period costumes organised into breathtaking tableaux that invite you to immerse yourself in a whimsical world of elegant living in Adelaide’s grandest Victorian home. The exhibition is located throughout the house with different themes reflected in each room.

Fabric of Life has undertaken major textile conservation treatments on three ball gowns for this exhibition.


Further Information:

Phone: 0404871707 
visit website

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November 2017


The work is an embroidered canvas work stitched in silk and wool. The framed textile measures 150cm x 130cm. The tapestry was cleaned and remounted to prepare it for display. It has been framed with museum glass to protect it from light damage in the future.

The tapestry shows "Mary Queen of Scots Mourning over the Dying Douglas at the Battle of Langside" in '1 568. The exact identity of Douglas is uncertain. The scene was copied as a tapestry design from a painting of the battle by Charles Landseer (c. 1870). Many of Landseer's paintings were based on novels by Sir Walter Scott. ln Scott's fictional book, The Abbot (1820), George Douglas dies at the Battle of Langside. ln the tapestry Queen Mary leans over the mortally wounded Douglas as a priest administers the last rites. A bishop stands to the left of the fallen warrior while a riderless horse (presumably belonging to Douglas) stands to the right. The design was a popular one for ladies to stitch in the Victorian era. Similar tapestries can be found at the Smithsonian National Museum of American History, and the Victoria and Albert Museum, London.

The tapestry was awarded a Bronze Medal at the lnternational and Universal Exhibition, London at the Crystal Palace in 1884. ln the second half of the nineteenth century international exhibitions and world fairs enabled nations io display the scientific, industrial and artistic creativity of their citizens to the world. It is not known why Harriette Steele decided to enter her work in the 1884 Exhibition.

The tapestry was generously donated to Urrbrae House by Mrs Susan Dutch on behalf of the Andrewartha family.

Further Information:

Phone: 0404871707 download PDF for more information 
visit website

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May 2017


Mary presented a talk at Urrbrae House, a historic house on the Waite campus of the University of Adelaide. Mary has been caring for the textiles in the house and carrying out textile conservation treatments on these textiles for over 20 years.

The house is open to the public and is set in extensive grounds including a fabulous rose garden and an arboretum.

Further Information:

Phone: 0404871707 download PDF for more information 
visit website

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Every now and again Fabric of Life will hold a pop up shop to showcase any hand made textile treasures we have discovered. Join our mailingl ist to keep in touch with our event.

Further Information

Phone: 0404871707 
visit website



September 2016


Do you have a special textile, a precious family relic? 

It could be a tapestry or carpet, a favourite quilt, a piece of clothing, even flags or curtains. 

Bring your along your loved item for advice on its preservation and display. 

Learning how to professionally extend the life of treasured family heirlooms enables objects of beauty, interest, sentimental value and cultural significance to be enjoyed by present and future generations.

Further Information

Phone: 0404871707 
visit website

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January 2016


Fabric of Life has been busy conserving a silk parasol for the upcoming opening of the David Roche Foundation Galleries, in Melbourne St, North Adelaide. 

The David Roche Foundation collection, housed in Adelaide, South Australia, spans two centuries of European design from the early Rococo of France to Fabergé in Russia. 

The collection’s great strengths lie in European decorative arts of superb quality, much of which was produced by leading makers such as Meissen, Sèvres and Chelsea, and designers including Thomas Hope, George Bullock and many others. 

With its focus on European neoclassical design of the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries, the collection celebrates exquisite craftsmanship and luxurious materials. This is a collection of national and indeed, international significance. 

The David Roche Foundation was established in 1999 to maintain and preserve the collection in the longer term and to secure it for future generations to enjoy, study and learn from. This is currently achieved by exhibiting items from the David Roche Foundation collection in the purpose-built gallery on the foundation property in North Adelaide.

Further Information

Phone: 0404871707



June 2014


Mortimer Menpes (1855-1938) was an Adelaide-born artist who moved to London in 1875 and forged a successful career as an artist in Britain.
During the 1880s and 1890s he travelled to Japan, India, Burma, Morocco, Cairo, Mexico and Venice, holding exhibitions upon his return to London. 

During this period he also built and decorated a famous Japanese-style house in Cadogan Garden which became a hub for artistic soirées, and to which British society flocked to sit for their portraits. 

In 2013 two unsigned panels which once would have formed part of a Japanese screen were found in the roof of the former home of Mortimer Menpes at Pangbourne in Berkshire, UK.

See the video on our website or on you tube about the conservation treatment of this screen

Further Information

Phone: 0404871707 
visit website



March 2013


Fabric of Life turns 10

Endangered Textile Traditions
New Directions

Fabric of Life will hold our final exhibition at our current location
At 141 Melbourne Street, North Adelaide from 28th of February to 16th of March 2013

We will showcasing world textiles and the cultural traditions that Fabric of Life has promoted over the last ten years including Indian and Chinese embroidery and Aboriginal textiles. The highlight will be a recently collected group of early 20th century Burmese textiles.




September 2012

Fabric of Life has been endorsed by the Fair Trade Association of Australia and New Zealand as a Fair Trader of Australia. The endorsement recognises Fabric of Life’s work with overseas producers from several countries who produce the finely crafted handmade textiles sold at Fabric of Life. 

Fabric of Life has been assessed against the ten standards of fair trade. These include: creating opportunities for economically disadvantaged producers; greater transparency and accountability; fairer trading practices; fairer prices for producers; no child exploitation or forced labour; non-discrimination, gender equity and freedom of association; better working conditions; capacity building; promotion of fair trade; and environmental sustainability.

Mary has been working with hand crafted textiles throughout her career firstly as a textile conservator and then in the last decade as the founding Director of Fabric of Life. She has a passionate interest in the preservation of cultural traditions through the support of those who possess these traditional skills. Textile traditions have developed and changed throughout the world for many centuries. By supporting Fair Trade we can help to ensure that this rich cultural life continues in a globalized world.



She has seen the real and tangible difference Fair Trade makes to the lives of people living in disadvantaged societies. Travelling regularly to meet with her suppliers Mary has seen the benefits of Fair Trade in providing opportunities for personal financial stability, safe working environments, education and health initiatives. 

Fabric of Life has also worked with Australian Indigenous communities in South Australia and the Northern Territory to promote their textile arts.

Mary is honoured that her work in promoting Fair trade has been recognized by her International and Australian peers through her endorsement as an Australian Fair trader by the Fair Trade Association of Australia and New Zealand.


August 2012

Every July, more than 150 artists from over 54 countries travel to historic Santa Fe displaying folk art forms that express the world’s diverse cultures. Many of the Market artists are from developing countries in Africa, Asia, Latin America, Central Asia, Eurasia, and the Middle East where they confront daunting political, social, and environmental conditions. 

The impact of the Market on the artists’ home communities is considerable. In many cases, artists use earnings for food, clothing, healthcare, education, and as an investment in their growing business enterprises. 

Sales at the Market directly benefit artists and their families and help sustain communities worldwide– participants take home 90% of all sales.

This exhibition presents a collection of textiles
from across the world collected recently at the Santa Fe International Folk Art Market.

Beautiful floral embroidered cushions and fine beaded jewellery from Guatemala, Peruvian weavings in glorious natural colours, embroidered coats from Kashmir, Indigo shirts in silk and cotton from Nigeria, embroidered clothes and scarves from Afghanistan, Indian block prints and Uzbek embroidered bags and cushions and more.

Further Information

Phone: 0404871707



March 2012


‘Blossom” will present textiles that explore inspiration from the natural word from diverse cultures the world over. Nature provides design inspiration, plants from which textiles are made, and plants and minerals that are used to create colour. 

Textiles will include Australian Indigenous hand printed textiles from Babbarra Arts in Maningrida in Arnhem Land representing the artist relationship with their country and the inspiration of natural materials. It will also feature Indigo dyed wall art by Adelaide Nigerian artist Oluwole Oginni and embroidered clothing by Adelaide Afghani embroiderer Fatima Ataei. Other cloths will include Indian and Central Asian embroidery depicting the symbolic flowers of celebration and ceremony.

Babbarra Designs create fine indigenous textile art and are based at Maningrida in central Arnham Land operating out of the Babbarra Women’s Centre. At Babbarra Designs the artists have negotiated traditional practices with introduced materials and techniques to develop new and original textiles.

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Influenced by the brightly coloured fashions favoured by the women of Maningrida and traditional subject matter their textiles are vibrant, innovativepieces of art. The work of these artists depicts the landscape, dreaming stories, bush foods and bush crafts from their country in central Arnhem Land. The variation in subject matter reflects the cultural identity of women from the different language groups.Oluwole Oginni arrived in Australia as a refugee from Nigeria in 2009. Since arriving in Australia Oluwole has participated in the Craftsouth Traditional Craft Skills Project in Adelaide, delivering workshops in traditional indigo techniques. Oluwole works with natural indigo sources from the indigo plant and depicts traditional designs inspired by the landscape of Nigeria. Prior to leaving Nigeria he was Director and Coordinator of Creativity for Self-Reliance Studio and Gallery in Nigeria. He established this studio for his own art practise and he provided free training and support for many young people to develop livelihoods based on art making. The majority of young people trained used the skills developed to supplement or provide their income. 

Fatima Ataei lives in Adelaide, arriving 4 years ago as a refugee from Afghanistan. She is highly skilled in the traditional textile arts of Afghanistan. For ‘Blossom’ she has made clothing embellished with exquisite fine embroidery, learned as a young girl from her mother in law. Many of these designs are inspired by the flowers of the Afghan countryside. Fatima has also made a collection of superfine silk chiffon scarves with embroidered edging.

Further Information

Phone: 0404871707​


November 2011


The colours and designs of Turkey represent many cultures and many places. The bustling bazaars and souks, the coming together of diverse cultures, peoples, traditions, crafts…
We are bringing you a taste of this to celebrate summer with the colours, styles and textures of Turkey. These textiles are made by artisans and master craftsmen following centuries-old traditions, and hand-picked by us during our travels. All items are inspired by the motifs, colours and symbols of the region. They have their own little story to tell and we wish to bring a little of this fascinating history into your lives and homes! 

• Magnificent rich Suzani embroideries from Central Asia including new contemporary designs on silk.
• Oya jewelery, cotton scarves with Oya trim and beaded belts
• Turkish silk scarves with traditional Ottoman designs from the ancient silk market in Bursa
• Hand woven pure cotton hamam towels perfect for the beach, a picnic, the bathroom or the gym. Vibrant, light weight and quick drying. 
• Colourful vintage ceramic bowls from Uzbekistan.

Further Information

Phone: 0404871707

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October 2011


Threads: Contemporary Textiles & the Social Fabric 
Textiles Seminar
Saturday 1 October | 1.00pm | Cinema B, Queensland Art Gallery: Gallery of Modern Art (GoMA)

A seminar exploring Contemporary Asian textiles in the exhibition, with Mary Jose, Director, Fabric of Life; textile artist Liz Williamson; and Ruth McDougall, Associate Curator, Asian and Pacific Art. Presented in conjunction with The Asian Art Society of Australia.

Threads Exhibition

Threads transformed through knitting, weaving, looping and stitching are the most flexible of materials. Often carrying significant personal and cultural narratives, they move across temporal and spatial boundaries, connecting old and new ideas, just as they provide important links between people, places and ways of life. Threads also have the capacity to unravel, opening up

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possibilities for innovation, discord and creative change.Bringing together a diverse range of contemporary textiles from the Gallery’s Australian, Asian and Pacific Collections, ‘Threads: Contemporary Textiles and the Social Fabric’ celebrates the ways in which contemporary artists explore and extend the textile medium. 

Many works draw on traditional textile practices while also engaging new technologies, materials and imagery to reflect and transform existing social, political and cultural conditions. Through the visually striking designs, skilled techniques and richly textured surfaces of contemporary textiles, the exhibition investigates their function as a form of skin or interface with other cultures, the use of abstraction and rhythm to engage with local environments, the weaving of new histories and ideas of nation, and the continued vitality of garden imagery.

Further Information

Phone: 0404871707 
visit website


August 2011


Halyna Zalotockyj works under the ‘Nina & Bess Textiles’ label producing work from vintage Japanese fabrics recycled from kimonos and their accessories. Halyna’s work to date has included all kinds of bags, cushions, lavender-filled products, lamp-shades, table runners, waistcoats and hand-stitched silk necklaces.

Her aim is to honour the spirit of the kimono, with its exquisite detailing, careful hand-sewn construction and traditional artisan weaving and dying techniques. After careful unpicking, laundering and pressing, textiles from damaged and no longer worn kimonos and obis are transformed into a range of unique hand-crafted objects which are detailed with vintage buttons, beads and findings. 

All the silks used are at least 20 years old, with most being from the 50s, 60s and 70s, though Halyna’s personal preference is for the rarer bold colours and patterns of the 20s and 30s. 

Though heavily influenced by the Japanese aesthetic, all her designs are original and no two pieces are exactly alike, no matter how small. She particularly enjoys combining fabrics from different periods in a fresh way.

Further Information

Phone: 0404871707



February 2011


The unique 'paisley' motif has been recreated in different forms for centuries. This exhibition for the Adelaide Fringe 2011 showcases a stunning collection of historic and new paisley textiles from across India and Central Asia, as well as modern interpretations of the design in every form from scarves to hand carved picture frames and printing blocks. All works will be for sale.

Persia is credited with having created the boteh design that has since become known as the paisley motif, during the Safavid Dynasty from 1501-1736. 

Boteh is an anglicised version of the Hindi word, buta, which means “flower.” In India the design is depicted in weaving, embroidery and woodblock printing in a range of styles. Iranian weavers began using the design extensively in rug weaving during the Qajar Dynasty (1795-1925) and continue to use it today. 

Paisley in Scotland produced machine made shawls for the longest period, thus the name ‘Paisley” became the popular western name for this design.

Further Information

Phone: 0404871707

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October 2010


Fabric of Life is a proud supporter of KIVA. I hope that you will join us in supporting those less lucky than us. You can join through the KIVA website or phone Fabric Of Life and we can help you to join our team.

Thanks to the wonderful generosity of one of our customers, Fabric of Life has auctioned a hand drawn silk batik Raiki Wara by Milyka Carroll of Ernabella to raise funds for Kiva. We have been proudly associated with Ernabella Arts for a number of years

Milyka Carroll was born at Ernabella in 1958 and still lives and works at Ernabella. She was Anangu Mayatja (Manager) at Ernabella Arts 2004 – 2007 and is now Director of Ananguku Arts and Culture Aboriginal Corporation (Ku Arts) and Chair of Ernabella Arts. She has exhibited extensively since 1990 and her work is held in all major Australian public collections and also the British Museum and National Galleries of Scotland. Her walka (design) reflects her identity as a contemporary and senior Pitjantjatara woman.

Further Information

Phone: 0404871707 
visit website

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June 2010


A collection of Indian textiles showcasing a contemporary reinterpretation of traditional techniques, designs and fabrics. Designers in India are creating innovative a vibrant designs drawn from their rich textile heritage.

Textiles include: 
•Bright hand printed silk quilts, cushions and other home wares. 
•A collection of very finely hand woven pure pashmina shawls in a range of colours and styles from the finest patterned weaving and embroidery available, to simple plain colours for winter. 
•A new range of kantha embroidered bedcovers throws and shawls; some using recycled fabrics and some on new silk.
•Beautiful pieced block printed cotton quilts coloured with natural dyes. 
.Hand block printed table cloths and napkins in a range of colours and sizes 
•A range of textured and embroidered woolly scarves for winter warming.
•Tree of Life appliqué hangings and bed covers

Further Information

Phone: 0404871707



March 2010


From the southern ocean to the northern seas and across the desert, contemporary textile art is practiced by Aboriginal artists. This exhibition showcases the work of three centres of contemporary textile practice.

Babbarra Designs is based at Maningrida in central Arnhem Land. The artists depict the landscape, dreaming stories, spirit beings, bush foods and bush crafts from their country. The Maningrida region of central Arnhem Land is one of immense cultural and linguistic diversity. The variation in subject matter reflects the cultural identity of women from the different language groups.

The women produce lino-tile designs and print these on fabric with up to three layers of colour. Each piece of lino fabric is unique with varying tile and colour combinations. The textile artists also hand paint their lino-tiled fabric, further enhancing the creativity of individual pieces. The artists work on both silk and cotton fabrics. The silk fabrics are suitable for use as wall hanging lengths, stretching like paintings or to make clothing and cushions. The cotton fabrics come in an upholstery grade for furniture and in softer grade cotton for use as


wall hangings, table cloths, cushions and clothing.Ernabella Arts Inc, from the Central Desert of Australia, is the oldest Indigenous art centre in Australia. Batik has been synonymous with Ernabella since the mid 1970’s and the resultant silks feature in many national and international public and private collections. Ernabella is located on the Anangu Pitjantjatjara Yankunytjatjara Lands in the north west of South Australia and has a community of about 400 Pitjantjatjara people. Of the contemporary art forms of Central Australia, the fabric traditions of Ernabella have gained a unique reputation in Australia and overseas. The artists continue to innovate, drawing on their land as inspiration for their rich and glowing cloths. The focus this year is on smaller scale silk cloths with finely detailed batik designs. Fabric of Life has been working closely with Ernabella Arts Inc since 2004.

Kuju Arts is based in Port Lincoln on the West Coast of South Australia. The art from the region expresses culture, stories, lifestyle & family and reflects the colors of land & sea. The Sea baskets are made from local grasses/reeds and seaweed with shells and other objects found from the shores around the West Coast. The sea baskets and matt hangings are only a new craft to Kuju with the first showing of the new style baskets and hangings in April 2009. These baskets are unique to Port Lincoln and Kuju and represent the environment and the strong cultural links to the sea for the people on the West Coast. 

Silk bags, hand painted by local Port Lincoln artist Elizabeth Miller will also be included. Each bag is unique with her two main designs being used– Honey ant Hunt and Footprints. Various colours are used to create unique and individual pieces of art and some of her silk paintings are also suitable for framing.

Further Information

Phone: 0404871707


August 2009


Eliza Piro was born in Adelaide and spent her younger years growing up in Clare in the mid North of South Australia. She studied art at Pembroke College where her love and passion for the subject evolved. Further study at Melbourne School of Photography gave her a greater understanding of colour, texture and form and led into experimenting with different mediums.

Eliza is inspired by nature. Her current and much of her future work will depict flora and fauna as she wishes to present art that will express the beauty of our surroundings and alert the viewer to our fragile environment.

Travels to India where she fell in love with beautiful textiels and embroideries have also been a huge inspiration, her art often depicts indian motifs such as birds and elephants which also expresses her love for nature.

Her paintings convey a sense of her journeys and will remind the viewer of rich and elegant fabrics.

Her interpretations are original, exotic and uplifting. Beautifully detailed painted trees and repeated patterns echo the spiritual mantra of the East meets West.

Further Information

Phone: 0404871707 
visit website



March 2009


A collection of Chinese silk textiles spanning a period from the late 19th Century to today. Collected over 20 years they include traditional Chinese costumes and textiles and a range of textiles from Chinese minority groups renowned for their fine embroidery. Works include framed embroideries, costume and associated textiles.
The Chinese pioneered the use of silk and were fundamental in the development of the world silk industry. They refined the spinning, weaving and embroidery of silk to its highest level. The network of trade routes that connected China, India, and Europe, known as the Silk Road, was one of the world's main thoroughfares for goods and ideas traveling both east and west.

Silk have been used in China for generations. At home, they were draped on chairs and around beds for warmth and comfort, placed on and around tables and hung on walls for decoration. They were used for book covers and for framing paintings. They were fashioned into purses and bags to hold small articles to be carried on the person. In temples and monasteries, they were used for banners, canopies and hangings for worship and commemoration. As garments, the use of silk itself was an indication of status

The works in this exhibition represent a small sample of the diverse and enormous representation of Chinese culture through silk.

Further Information

Phone: 0404871707 download PDF for more information



September 2008


Textiles have been traded throughout Asia and Europe for hundreds of years. The Silk Road with its caravanserai for traders and travelers passed through central Asia and Turkey on its way to Europe. 

Following these long traditions of textiles trade Fabric of Life presents a range of textiles and other handcrafted wares from the rich and exotic markets of Turkey. 




May 2008

Helena Geiger, with her Aboriginal heritage stemming from the Gumbaynggir Tribal Language Group on the North Coast of NSW, and a combined passion for Indigenous Art and Fabric, expresses herself through the traditional and beautiful art of Batik. Her work reflects her emotional responses to the Earth in delicate detail.

Helena Geiger’s work is inspired by nature. She sees the detail in everything around her; the bark on trees, the lines drawn in sandstone, reflections in a puddle, colours in the sky She collects from the natural world; rocks, bark, feathers, leaves, pebbles different coloured sand, leaves. She also photographs the world around her to capture images of landscape that inspire her work.

Each of Geiger’s works expresses different aspects of the land. The first step is to decide how to interpret this image into batik, and to decide how to use the qualities of this medium to achieve a particular result. How many layers of wax , what degree of cracks are needed to create texture, what sequence of colours to use, what colour will be the first and last. After the first few colours and layers of wax are done the images starts to take shape and takes on its own journey.



Geiger finds batik to be challenging as you can never tell exactly how a piece will look until all the wax is taken off after sometimes days and even month’s spent working on it. It is a journey that never ends, there is so much to learn and discover about this technique.

Helena Geiger has been exhibition in Sydney since 1998. This was her first Adelaide exhibition.


February 2008



Prized batik from Australia’s oldest Indigenous arts centre at Ernabella has been acquired by the National Museums Scotland – just days before our major exhibition of the work officially opened .

The National Museums Scotland, which hosts five museum centres across Scotland, was seeking to develop its collection of contemporary Australian art prior to the opening of a new Australian Gallery at its Edinburgh site in 2012. The Museum bought 16 separate works – including 11 batik wall hangings – created by the internationally renowned women artists of the influential and internationally renowned outback Ernabella Arts Centre.

Earlier this month the National Gallery of Victoria and the Art Gallery of South Australia also purchased a number of works produced by the women which were in a special exhibition, Kiti Art: New Batik from Ernabella Arts to celebrate the 60th anniversary of the arts centre.The sales represented a triumph for the


artists and came at a time of renewed international interest in Aboriginal Australia, further fuelled this month by the Federal Government’s historic apology to the Stolen Generations. 

“Ernabella’s long and successful history is testament to the artists who have continued, through many years of social change, to create exciting art of international quality from their very remote community.The Adelaide exhibition focuses on Ernabella’s unique involvement in batik works, stemming from an unprecedented visit to Indonesia in the 1970s by Ernabella artists which brought together two very different cultures and is regarded as having shifted the course of Australian textile art.

All of the artists represented in this showcase Adelaide exhibition – including Tjunkaya Tapaya, Imiyari (Yilpi) Adamson, Tjariya (Nungalka) Stanley, Amanyi (Dora) Haggie, Margaret Dagg – have becoming leading exponents of batik, and are represented in National and International Museum Collections and private collections worldwide.
They have each returned to their roots in 2008, to mark the anniversary of Ernabella – one of Australia’s most important indigenous art centres.

In 2008 The Arts Centre at Ernabella celebrates its 60th year and Kiti Art is an honouring of the past and recognition that even though art practices are changing the acclaimed batik work of the women of Ernabella is stonger than ever. Kiti Art includes work by several of the most senior and important women artists of Ernbella Arts who are returning to their roots and producing a range of batiks that reflect their love for the artform, their land and their origins as artists. Ernabella Arts is experiencing a time of change – new mediums, new styles, new artists – yet these contemporary, batik works show that the heart and soul of the artists remains the same. 

Ernabella artists have a tradition of batik practice which has developed and flourished for over 40 years. The batik in this exhibition represents the work of the most senior women artists working at Ernabella today. All of these artists are represented in National and International Museum Collections and private collections worldwide. In 2008 these artists have returned to their roots to produce new batik. The artists included are Tjunkaya Tapaya Imiyari (Yilpi) Adamson, Tjariaya (Nungalka) Stanley, Amanyi (Dora) Haggie, Alison Carroll, and Renita Stanley. 

Kiti is the adhesive gum made from the resin of spinifex or mulga. Used to plug holes or cracks in bowls etc, and in making weapons, such as spear-throwers and hunting spears. As the melted wax is applied to the fabric, the women are reminded of kiti and the traditional way for Anangu.


August 2007


SALA 2007 sees the return to Fabric of Life of the Ernabella Arts Inc beanies or mukata. 

Each year the artists from Ernabella participate in the Alice Springs Beanie Festival. Beanies are made from a variety of materials and using many different techniques. 

Each year a theme is chosen for the beanies. In 2007 mukata made by the women of Ernabella Arts Inc reflect journeys both physical and spiritual. These sculptural and highly decorative pieces give a new meaning to the word beanie.

This year we will exhibit a small selection of ‘art piece” mukata showcasing the best of the 2007 production. We will also have a few everyday beanies for sale.

The artists have worked with Siri Omberg to develop skills in felting and applied threads. As their skills developed they began felting entire stories and traditional symbolism on their mukata that has previously only been seen in paintings.

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June 2007


Mary spent the month of April in India collecting a new range of handcrafted textiles for Fabric Of Life. It is always wonderful to visit artisans and organisations who have become friends and see the new work they are producing. The richness and variety of their work is always inspiring.

The focus of this trip was on embroidery. Mary visited a number of NGO’s and embroidery co-operatives in West Bengal to view different applications of the traditional Kantha embroidery. 

We then traveled to Rajasthan and then to Gujarat to visit the artisans that have become familiar to clients of the Fabric of Life such as, The Indian NGO, Shrujan; KMVS a project supporting the empowerment of women in tribal villages of Gujarat , the tie dyer Alimohamed Isha and the Ari Embroiderer Adam Sangar.

Further Information

Phone: 0404871707

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March 2007


Adelaide Fringe 2007 saw Ernabella Arts Inc hold its first exclusively Tjanpi (fibre sculpture/basket) exhibition. The exhibition showcased work of various styles and scale showing the imaginative, unique, quirky and stylish aesthetic of the women of Ernabella. Their works included 2 and 3 dimensional fibre sculpture and sculptural and practical baskets, often decorated with wool, painted gumnuts and seeds. 

Making Tjanpi - anything made of grass - is a popular occupation in Indigenous communities in the Central Desert Region and its recognition as an art from is growing. In recent years the artists at Ernabella have started to use tjanpi to make baskets and various sculptural objects for sale. There is nothing in nature on the Lands that can provide the artists with a string or tie that is long enough to hold the tjanpi stems together (unlike their countrywomen in the Top End who use pandanus which provides a fibre string metres long) and so shop bought raffia or wool is used. 

The birds and animals have been made for fun. People love going out bush


and collecting the grass and sitting down together to dream up a shape. Knees and other joints are a small engineering challenge, frequently met by the artist choosing to create a nesting bird. As well as tjanpi some larger heavier pieces are made using punti a cassia species that is common in the area.

Most of the sculptures are bound together with varieties of wool including traditionally hand spun sheep’s wool using the Pitjantjatjara spindle to make the thread. Many of the currently practicing Ernabella artists began their careers as hand loom weavers producing fine woolen goods and the skills they learnt as weavers enable them to produce some of the most accomplished tjanpi work from the APY Lands.


March 2007


On Saturday 10th March a Tjanpi workshop was held in the Pioneer Women’s Memorial Garden, Adelaide. 

Ernabella artists Tjunkaya Tapaya, Ungakini Tjangala, Ninguta Edwards and Yurpiya Lionel, and the Manager of Ernabella Arts, Debra Myers were present. 

The artists demonstrated the art of ‘Tjanpi‘ showing both how the twine baskets and how to make sculpture using natural grasses, raffia, wool and chicken wire. This gave the public a chance to interact with the artists in a practical hands on event. 

‘Tjanpi Tjuta’ has promoted a greater understanding and community involvement with the Indigenous artists of Ernabella Arts Inc and their work. Work from other Ernabella artists will also be exhibited at Fabric of Life during the Fringe. 

We were very pleased to welcome representatives of the Kuarna community at this workshop.

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