Shell stringing is a celebration of culture and a symbol of identity – an unbroken string that connects the Tasmanian Aboriginal Community, to Ancestors, culture and Country.
kanalaritja (kah nah lar ree tchah) – An Unbroken String is a stunning exhibition at the Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery (TMAG) in Hobart. It features beautiful, delicate and rare shell necklaces created by Tasmanian Aboriginal makers including Lola Greeno, Dulcie Greeno, Corrie Fullard, Jeanette James, Rachell Quillerat and others including a work by 5 year old Eve Plank.
These contemporary necklaces are placed alongside necklaces created by Tasmanian Aboriginal Ancestors in the 1800s. All the works are incredibly beautiful, powerful and celebrate a link to cultural practice across generations.
Since 2010, TMAG has worked with the Tasmanian Aboriginal Community to facilitate a number of luna tunapri workshops in which women in the Community – who had not had shell stringing passed down through their families – were guided through the intricate processes of collecting, cleaning and stringing.
The women were encouraged to look in their local areas for shell collecting beaches and to use the knowledge shared with them to develop their own distinctive shell stringing styles and new traditions.
Building on the overwhelming success of the luna tunapri project, the women aspired to share their journey with the wider public, leading to the creation of this exhibition which will tour to every state and territory in Australia before completing its journey in Launceston at the Queen Victoria Museum and Art Gallery in 2019.
Shell stringing is the Community’s longest continued cultural practice, a practice which not only withstood invasion but continued throughout the Black War and during the time Pakana Ancestors were incarcerated in government missions at Wybalenna on Flinders Island and Oyster Cove, south of Hobart.
For more information and photographs of all the necklaces visit kanalaritja.tmag.tas.gov.au
Tour dates and venues
Until 21 May 2017 – Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery, Hobart
2 Jun – 30 July 2017 – Museum Victoria, Melbourne
10 August – 9 October 2017 – National Museum of Australia, Canberra
19 October 2017 – January 2018 – West Australian Museum, Albany
February – 30 April 2018 – West Australian Museum, Geraldton
23 May – 18 July 2018 – Tandanya Cultural Institute, Adelaide
1 August – 3 September 2018 – Northern Centre for Contemporary Art, Darwin
15 September – 4 November 2018 – Toowoomba Regional Gallery, Toowoomba
12 December 2018 – 2 February 2019 – Grafton Regional Gallery, Grafton
18 March – 20 April 2019 – Blacktown Arts Centre, Sydney
April – June 2019 – Queen Victoria Museum and Art Gallery, Launceston