Saturday, 30 September 2017

Aboriginal Possum Skin Cloaks & India Flint's Exhibition.

There is a permanent exhibition of Aboriginal art at the museum in Melbourne. It is hard to describe the effect of the art had on the viewers breathing. It was deep and sad.

There was a possum skin cloak under glass. It was patched together from 80 something possums. On the suede side of the cloak the maker had incised patterns. They were local mountains and rocks... a very personal topographical record.

According to Wikipedia: Possum-skin cloaks were a form of clothing worn by Aboriginal people in the south-east of Australia – present-day Victoria and New South Wales.
The cloaks were made from numerous possum pelts sewn together with kangaroo sinew, and often decorated with significant incisions on the inside such as clan insignias. They were rubbed with ochre and fat to both decorate and protect them.
As well as being a significant means of keeping warm in this often chilly part of Australia, there was much importance around the making of the cloaks and their wearing. They were handed down through generations as heirlooms. As with most Australian Aboriginal belongings, there were many uses for the one thing – the cloaks were also used as blankets, mattresses and to wrap babies.

The beautiful photographs of people wearing their cloaks was hypnotic. My mind reeled. Textiles always have so much information in them as artifacts. These were so direct and personal.

I was lucky to visit an exhibition of India Flint's recent work a decent drive outside of Adelaide. I have always respected her work as an artist, writer and a teacher.  Another very personal topographical record. Something deep and sad. (But uplifting....being in the presence of good art.)

(Please click image to read clearly.)


  1. sorry I missed you, near and yet so far.

  2. I felt like a bit of a peeping Tom visiting your exhibition and not dropping by to see you. I'll be in Adelaide in 2019 with a little more free time. Bryan