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Local artist makes clothing debut

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Mark Knowles, Cape York Weekly

Fiona, Ebony and Aunty Rhoda
Fiona Wirrer-George Oochunyung, daughter Ebony and Aunty Rhonda. Photo: Cape York Weekly

Cape York artist Fiona Wirrer-George Oochunyung debuted her new range of fashion designs at the Brisbane Festival on Sunday.

Her debut was part of the First Nations Fashion: Walking in Two Worlds show, curated by Cairns-based artist Grace Lillian Lee and presented by the Brisbane Festival and Screen Queensland.

The show features garments from two new collections of designs by Fiona entitled Wik Cha’pra and Oochunyung Green.

Wik Cha’pra means Wik blood, and what I mean by that is that I’m of Wik lineage,” said Fiona, who is from Napranum.

Ebony modelling outfit
Daughter Ebony models an outfit. Photo: Cape York Weekly

“The second one Oochunyung Green refers to the wattle flower legend as inherited by me through my maternal lineage.

“This is my first go at transferring my designs onto clothing as I’ve primarily been working with ceramics and canvas for the past 10 years. I’ve just changed the medium by utilising existing designs but I’ve always had a vision of seeing them on clothing.”

Fiona hopes to continue creating more clothing with her designs and make them available for purchase.

“I’m doing dresses, sarongs and silk scarfs at the moment and for men I’ve just experimented with ties and bow ties as I see a niche with formal wear,” she said.

The vibrantly coloured designs draw on Fiona’s heritage as a woman from the Mbaiwum/Trotj, Alngith/Lininigithi Wikway and Wik Apalich nations of Western Cape York.

“I’m not claiming tribal designs; it’s more semi-tribal or contemporary interpretations of tribal stories and legends,” she said.

“Even though I’m solely the artist, I still have an obligation and a responsibility to uphold cultural protocols.”

Cape York Weekly 7 September 2021

This article appeared in Cape York Weekly, 7 September 2021.


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