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ReCoil: Change and Exchange in Coiled Fibre Art

A multi-coloured striped woven Indigenous basket without handles.
Basket. Ann Dixon, 2006.

ReCoil: Change and Exchange in Coiled Fibre Art was on show at the National Museum of Australia from November 2008 to 14 June 2009 in the First Australians Focus Gallery.

The innovations occurring in Indigenous fibre practice, is nothing short of revolutionary. ReCoil: Change and Exchange in Coiled Fibre Art explored the influences underpinning some of the most recent and often dramatic changes to contemporary Indigenous fibre art happening in many parts of Australia.

Central to the show was the coiled basketry technique and the way it has spread and diversified, establishing new fibre movements in a range of remote Aboriginal communities.

View a selection of coiled fibre artwork

This basketry technique was traditionally practiced by Aboriginal people of south-east Australia, and was transplanted by missionaries many years ago to Arnhem Land.

More recently, it was introduced via workshops to the women of the desert regions of the Northern Territory, South Australia and Western Australia. Just like the desert paintings movement, this new fibre movement has continued to spread rapidly along lines of kinship and via skills exchanges. It is now practiced throughout the remote regions of the Northern Territory and Western Australia as far west as the Pilbara, south to Kalgoorlie and through the northern regions down to Coober Pedy in South Australia. As the weavers travel, the influence of coiling keeps expanding.

Image above: Courtesy Tjanpi Desert Weavers. Photo: Peter Eve, Monsoon Studio.

The spread of coiling

In highlighting the rich legacy of inter-cultural exchange behind the coiling movement, the exhibition profiled the work of 12 Indigenous artists and three Australian textile artists who have worked together with their Aboriginal peers:

  • Kantjupayi Benson (Blackstone, WA)
  • Anne Dixon (Alice Springs, NT)
  • Margaret Djogiba (Gunbalanya, NT)
  • Robyn Djunginy (Ramingining, NT)
  • Mavis Ganambarr (Galiwin'ku, NT)
  • Fiona Gavino (Perth, WA)
  • Philomena Hali (Alice Springs, NT)
  • Treahna Hamm (Albury, NSW)
  • Yvonne Koolmatrie (Berri, SA)
  • Niningka Lewis (Ernabella, SA)
  • Banbiyak Mununggurr (Yirrkala, NT)
  • Phyllis Napurrula Williams and Topsy Napurrula Fisher (Nyirrpi, NT)
  • Phyliss Rogers (Jigalong, WA)
  • Nalda Searles (Perth, WA)

They exemplify the revival and innovative reinterpretations of this technique in the south-east of Australia – the region where the coiling technique originated.

Exhibition curator, sponsor and supporters


Recoil exhibition was curated by Artback NT Arts Development and Touring, sponsored by Visions of Australia and supported by Northern Territory Government, Energy Resources of Australia, and Rio Tinto.


ReCoil was curated by Artback NT Arts Development and Touring and toured nationally until late 2009.

The development tour of the exhibition was generously sponsored by Visions of Australia, an Australian Government program supporting touring exhibitions by providing funding assistance for the development and touring of Australian cultural material across Australia.

Support was also provided by the Northern Territory Government through the Department of Natural Resources, Environment and the Arts, as well as by Energy Resources of Australia Ltd and Rio Tinto.

Related links

Selling Yarns conference 2009
The Selling Yarns 2: Innovation for Sustainability conference was held in association with the exhibition ReCoil, Change & Exchange in Coiled Fibre Art.

View video highlights from the Selling Yarns 2 conference and workshops
Craft Australia website