We are excited to announce a new EARRING project, designed in collaboration with local NT designer heroes Elliat Rich and James Young of Elbow Workshop in Alice Springs.

The background

Earlier this year we asked Elbow Workshop to come up with an accessory idea that could be a 'blank canvas' for various emerging Aboriginal artists across Australia. We wanted to create a product that: 

  • could be created (end to end) during a two hour workshop
  • artists could receive a payment upfront (before the item is sold)
  • that we were confident would sell well and could cover the costs of all the inputs
  • that could be delivered as an 'enterprise learning' package / project to educate both artists and consumers about the costs of designing and creating a product!

We created a full kit which included a breakdown of all of the materials and their associated costs, a ‘how to’ manual for creating the earrings and the packaging for the earrings so they could be presented for sale in a compelling way.

Elbow Workshop excelled on the brief of coming up with a product that both looks great, and can be created by artists with a wide range of skills! 

Vanessa Inkamala (Iltja Njarra - Many Hands art centre) with some of her designs at our Alice Springs pop up (Photo - Rhett Hammerton)

The Pilot

The very first pilot of this project was delivered by Millie Shorter in Katherine with two local organisations - Katherine Doorways Hub and the Katherine Women’s Crisis Centre - across two days in August. There were about 25 people involved across both locations.

Damien at the Doorways Hub

artists at work, Katherine Doorways Hub

We spoke to Harley Dannatt at the Katherine Doorways Hub, a community space and drop in centre for people experiencing or at risk of homelessness.

"People were immediately interested, and then interest grew in the time that Millie was here. We have a lot of talented artists drop in to the hub all the time, so it was great for them to have a new medium to work with". Harley Dannatt, Coordinator, Katherine Doorways Hub

Cheradine modelling her designs at The Doorways Hub

Alfrina Ajax from Alice Springs working on a honey ant design

An outreach worker at the Crisis Centre said the women coming to the Centre were often looking for relaxing, peaceful projects that they could sit down and do together. This project was something they could do while relaxing, sitting and yarning with each other. They were able to earn some money from the earrings and be proud of what they had made.

“The women loved the process of sitting around together, doing something creative. The artists came up with some really delicate works, and took a lot of time with their designs. One of the women said she liked the act of creating something, to take her mind off her problems.” - Millie Shorter, workshop co-ordinator

Enterprise learning

We co-designed the earring project so that it could serve as an accessible introduction to product development and creative enterprise. We created a simple resource that broke down the costs of the paint, perspex pieces, earring hooks, designer fees, the fee the artists would be paid, and the fee that Magpie Goose would take to sell the products and run the workshops.

"People were really interested in the innovative business model that was really well explained. This fits in really well with what we’re working on at the Hub; including supporting artists to develop and widen their skills and also to grow skills in a way that supports them financially." Harley Dannatt, Coordinator, Katherine Doorways Hub

“The enterprise element took people’s interest – people appreciated seeing the bigger picture of where the money goes in a product. People were also really excited to be getting paid for their work, and to earn a bit of money.” – Millie Shorter


New partnerships

Since the initial pilot project in Katherine in August, Elbow Workshop were able to facilitate the project with Iltja Ntjarra (Many Hands) Art Centre in Alice Springs! Again, there was lots of interest, and a lot of fabulous earrings were created!

Valerie Inkamala working on a design at Iltja Ntjarra (Many Hands) Art Centre, Alice Springs

Vanessa Inkamala's completed design - Iltja Ntjarra (Many Hands) Art Centre

Valerie Inkamala joining the pieces together 

The Iltja Ntjarra earrings were showcased at a recent Magpie Goose pop up at Elbow Workshop in Alice Springs and many happy punters were able to snap up a pair. 


Elliat Rich in Alice Springs modelling new earrings! (photo: Rhett Hammerton)

 Looking forward

We are planning to incorporate the delivery of the earring 'workshop package' alongside future Magpie Goose textile design workshops. We are also working to establish relationships with community centres / art centres who have capacity to facilitate the earring project on an ongoing basis!

Check out all the earrings here - every design is a one off, so get in quick! Official packaging is in the works - but we wanted to share these with you ASAP!

- MG 

Testing the earrings out at our Adelaide PopUp

Read more

How do artists get paid?

How do artists get paid?

Aboriginal place names / Traditional Country in addresses!

Aboriginal place names / Traditional Country in addresses!

Magpie Goose x Jinibara - a special Woodford Folk Festival collaboration

Magpie Goose x Jinibara - a special Woodford Folk Festival collaboration


Be the first to comment.
All comments are moderated before being published.