We’re shining the light on our last Indigenous Program recipient for 2019, One of Twelve! Founder of OOT Anna combines creativity and art by partnering with powerful and innovative indigenous-owned community art centres and collectives in Australia and Papua New Guinea. Helping to generate revenue and exposure for artists and makers is just one aspect to this inspiring business.
Showcasing elegant silk scarves and ties that bring artists work to life; off the walls of the gallery to the shoulders of people on the streets. Discover an exclusive first-peek at their fabulous new range of heavenly silk scarves and ties by Martumili artists next weekend at Finders Keepers, Sydney, The Cutaway Barangaroo Dec 6-8!
Can you share the journey of One of Twelve so far and why it was so important to start your business? Please also share a little bit about your own creative background.
I spent a long time working as a buyer for the National Gallery of Australia, where I worked directly with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islands art centres. Art centres are the backbone of communities, places where culture is shared, and knowledge passed on to younger generations. They produce incredible work, but I noticed a divide between the original artworks and products they make and mass-produced reproductions. I wanted to create high-quality products that celebrated contemporary artworks in a respectful way.
After a serendipitous encounter with a group of Papua New Guinea bilum weaver’s, I was hooked on the beautiful bags and wanted to share them with world! In addition to our silk scarves and ties, we now offer an exclusive line of unique artisan-made bilum bags.
I’ve always been passionate about making contemporary art more accessible, so One of Twelve works with a diverse group of contemporary artists across the Asia-Pacific region to produce limited-edition pieces. Our products are designed to be cherished as functional works of art.
What’s the process of working with the Artists/Art Centres? Can you share with us who you have you worked with so far and where their inspiration come from?
Our process varies depending on the collaboration. Our Ninuku collection involved a 30,000km road trip and many nights under the stars, while our latest range has been organised via phone and email. We spend months trawling through archives and choosing works with the artists. Then comes the business end – licence agreements, writing artist cards, and finally production. Our first range of scarves featured the work of artist’s from Ninuku in the Anangu Pitjantjatjara Yankunytjatjara Lands, and Bidyadanga, near Broome.
We’re thrilled to be launching our latest collaboration with Martumili Artists at Finders Keepers Sydney, with a new range of heavenly silk scarves and ties. Martumili was established by the Martu people, traditional custodians of vast stretches of the Great Sandy, Little Sandy and Gibson Deserts as well as the Karlamilyi (Rudall River) area. Their inspiration is their Country, which they depict in a mirid of captivating, colourful and fiercely contemporary ways.
What are your hopes for the future of One of Twelve?
Big picture? To promote the work of contemporary artists and artisans from across the Asia- Pacific region, providing them with a platform to reach a greater audience and support themselves through their art. I’m passionate about the vital role art centres play within Aboriginal and Torres Strait Island communities, and one of our core aims is to increase public awareness of the important work they do.
One of our points of difference is that we work with a range of contemporary artists from First Nations and settler Australian backgrounds. We like to think we provide an egalitarian platform for contemporary art, where artists are not categorised by cultural background.
For me, One of Twelve combines creativity and art with adventure. Last year I visited a remote village in PNG, crossed rivers, chewed beetle-nut, slept in a grass hut and acquired a cache of bilums from some of the kindest women on earth. I’ve created my dream job, so I hope to be fortunate enough to continue!
These so much joy in these scarves! How do you recommend styling them and do you have a favourite?
So much joy! I only choose works that give me goosebumps when I see them, so they are all incredibly special in different ways. If I had to choose a favourite from the Martumili collection, I would probably go with Jakayu Biljabu’s Parnngurr Area – it’s so vibrantly colourful and it really hums, especially translated in silk! Biljabu’s painting depicts the epic Minyi Puru Jukurrpa (Seven Sisters Story), following the travels of an amorous old man as he chases seven sisters across Martu Country, the sisters eventually escaping into the sky to become stars.
As far as styling them goes, the scarves are luxuriously oversized, so they work well in a loose drape around the neck, or trailing from the strap of a one-of-a-kind bilum bag. I am all about big hoops at the moment so I wouldn’t miss an opportunity to add them into the mix!
Being your first Finders Keepers what can market goers expect to discover at your stall?
An exclusive first-peek at our fabulous new Martumili range, featuring our signature oversized silk scarves and the first drop of lush silk ties for the fellas! Other treasures include a vibrant batch of one-off acrylic bilums from Goroka in the Eastern Highlands and some ultra-rare natural fibre Teleformin’s from Kiunga in the Western provinces of PNG.
Each bag is hand-crafted and unique, so you will never come across the same design twice!
Bonus Q: What’s on the spring/summer wish list at this year’s Finders Keepers for you?
Top of the list is probably some chips from The Chippery! I also can’t wait to see what Bridget Bodenham has been up to and pick up my go to gift— the Maya Sunny Honey trio.