Airports can make interesting exhibition spaces. To start, there’s high visitor rotation, one group with time on their hands, the other keen to form first impressions or re-connect. Plenty of seating too.
Wagga Wagga Regional Airport is the latest to take on the challenge of airport beautification, turning to the local Wirajduri people to create both welcome and waiting areas with distinctive identity for this regional hub.
Wagga Wagga weaving welcome is a series of hand-stained sandblasted images on the glass walls of the Wagga Airport Terminal. The images celebrate the traditional Aboriginal weaving practices of the south-east, which continue to be an important part of contemporary cultural life.
Although the region’s traditional weaving was severely impacted by colonisation, the practice continues with many of the images seen in Wagga Wagga weaving welcome recalling significant traditional forms, such as a hand-fishing net and an emu-feather skirt. Others include scoops and baskets, which also reference an airport context.
Weaving is part of a broader Wiradjuri revitalisation movement that includes language, cultural knowledge and nation building. Integral to Wagga Wagga weaving welcome is a Wiradjuri welcome to country written by senior Wiradjuri elder Uncle Stan Grant. Accompanied by an English translation, the text welcomes and acknowledges visitors and occupants of Wagga Wagga as they arrive and outlines the responsibilities of being on Wiradjuri country. The welcome features an emu and a goanna, two culturally significant ancestral animals for Wiradjuri people.
Although the region’s traditional weaving was severely impacted by colonisation, the practice continues with many of the images seen in Wagga Wagga weaving welcome recalling significant traditional forms, such as a hand-fishing net and an emu-feather skirt.
The weaving images are based on woven objects created by leading local Aboriginal Wagga Wagga weavers, including senior Wiradjuri elder Aunty Sandy Warren, Wiradjuri elder Aunty Lorraine Tye and senior Ngiyampaa elder Aunty Joyce Hampton. The airport artwork was created under their direction with the support of Uncle Stan Grant and in collaboration with Sydney-based Wiradjuri/Kamilaroi artist Jonathan Jones.
This work was commissioned by the City of Wagga Wagga.
Museums & Galleries of NSW was in Wagga when the artwork was installed at the airport, with the digital storytelling workshop component of its Travelling Places program. As a result, the installation was documented with artists’ commentary by the digital storytelling workshop participants.
Steve Miller. M&G Aboriginal Program Manager
The artists featured in this project are:
Aunty Sandy Warren (b1942, Wiradjuri), Aunty Joyce Hampton (b1933, Ngiyampaa), Aunty Lorraine Tye (b1950, Wiradjuri), and Jonathan Jones (b1978, Wiradjuri/Kamilaroi).
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