Woven in our hearts

Creative expression as a crucial tool for healing and community rebuilding was in clear view at the Culture for Recovery community workshops nurtured by renowned Indigenous artist Cedric Varcoe last weekend.

More than 70 Islanders (aged seven to ninety!) learnt and used traditional and contemporary weaving techniques with Mr Varcoe, a Ramindjeri, Ngarrindjeri and Narangga man, in the workshops.


Cedric began each day with a welcome to country and smoking ceremony with local aromatic plants. Photo: Sarah Kemp

The community and the impact that the workshops had on those that attended moved Mr Varcoe, who said he is passionate about sharing culture and connecting with all walks of life through art.

“I enjoyed everybody coming together and taking part in something that they may not otherwise get to experience.”

Sarah Kemp of Smart Future Creative, which is delivering the project to gift the island two art works as a legacy of community strength and resilience, said she hoped for many benefits for the individuals and our bushfire-affected community.

“This incredible experience was grounding and connecting,” she said.

“We loved the diversity of creations, each containing a unique personal story from its maker. Cedric will weave all the pieces together, creating a ‘map’ that represents our community, that will be publicly displayed.”

Attendee and local artist, Janine Mackintosh, said it was such a joy to spend time with Cedric who generously shared his stories and weaving techniques.

“It was wonderful to connect with culture and each other, to create, yarn, laugh and heal – one stitch at a time,” she said.


There was plenty of laughter every day. Photo: Sarah Kemp

Kath Bald, who also attended, said the workshop was so refreshing and relaxing.

“There was lots of conversation, sharing of ideas and meeting new people,” she said.

“Cedric was so calm and open to share his story and skills with us, and start a journey for Kangaroo Island of healing and knowledge sharing.”

Mr Varcoe will return in September to work with students, teachers and community over five days, to create a mural at the Parndana KICE campus, the second artwork.

This project is being delivered by Smart Future Creative, in partnership with the Art Museum of Kangaroo Island, as its first artist in residence program. It is supported by funding from the Regional Arts Fund through Country Arts SA, and the State Emergency Relief Fund Community Strength and Resilience Initiative, along with valuable support by Penny and David Paton. Many thanks to Parndana Bowling Club for their light-filled, welcoming venue and tasty lunches.

Some more of Sarah’s photos of finished pieces and their proud makers:

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