The Magpie Goose mission is twofold:
1. To create opportunities for non-Indigenous people to connect with Aboriginal art, culture and stories through fashion; and
2. To generate new economic opportunities for Aboriginal people living in remote Australia
We work to achieve our mission in a number of ways.
Purchasing textiles from remote Aboriginal art centres:
Aboriginal art centres play a really important role in remote communities. They are a place for artists to work, to access supplies and to make money through their art. Art centres are a vital source of employment in communities, employing retail staff, screen printers, managers, tour guides, and much more. In remote Australia, where jobs are often scarce, income earned by one employee or artist usually goes on to support a large family network. Art centres are also often places of innovation – responding to tourism trends, isolation / remoteness, and the growing market for Indigenous art and textiles in creative ways (e.g. accessing online markets, looking at other tourist experiences such as cafes and tours, and hands on experiences such as textile printing). Sales of the products created at remote art centres are pivotal to their survival.
Magpie Goose purchases textiles directly from Aboriginal Art Centres. Since our launch in December 2016, Magpie Goose has channelled over $250,000 into Aboriginal art centres through textile purchases.
Michael Naborlhborlh and Gabriel Maralngurra screenprinting Manme (bushfoods) design created by a collective of Injalak women, at Injalak Arts, Gunbalanya NT (photo: Injalak Arts)
2. Creating new business opportunities for Aboriginal people
a. Textile design
There are many communities that do not have the benefit of an art centre, but are home to passionate artists with lots of ideas and aspirations to create art. We work to support these artists and communities by facilitating textile design workshops. These workshops provide both skill development and income generation opportunities, as Magpie Goose works with these artists to license their designs for upcoming ranges. The artists are able to create in a new medium, receive income from the licensing of their designs, and gain widespread exposure through their collaboration with Magpie Goose.
In August 2017 Magpie Goose supported four artists (two from Borroloola, two from Urapunga) to participate in a textile design and screen-printing workshop in Katherine. This workshop resulted in the licensing of 12 designs. To date, we have paid over $10,000 in licensing fees to these artists, with more payments to come as their designs are incorporated into upcoming releases. We anticipate these artists will be generating income from this partnership throughout 2018 and beyond.
Nancy McDinny working on her Munjimunjingu Manma (Sea food bush tucker) design
Stewart Hoosan seeing his new Ringer design printed for the first time
Rhonda Duncan painting her Pandanus Story design onto acetate, soon to be exposed onto a screen in the sun!
Margaret Duncan smoothing out the wrinkles on her new Billabong design - which 'is like one big shop!'
In April 2018 Magpie Goose ran a textile design workshop in partnership with Minyerri Arts and Cultural Centre (MACC). The workshop led to the development of six new designs by six artists, which we have licensed for an upcoming range.
MACC was established by community members in 2016 and operates with minimal external support. To support the ongoing growth and sustainability of the Arts Centre, Magpie Goose will make a donation for every metre of fabric printed of Minyerri artists' designs. These funds will be invested into creating new opportunities for artists and community members in Minyerri.
We are exploring ways we can support these artists beyond their collaboration with Magpie Goose.
Dudley Forbes working on a new design for future Magpie Goose range at Minyerri Arts and Culture Centre, April 2018
b. Screen printing
For two weeks in September 2017 our textile / screenprinting consultant Millie Shorter trained five Katherine jobseekers in screen printing at Katherine Regional Arts. Magpie Goose engaged the five on a ‘payment per metre printed’ basis them to screenprint hundreds of metres, enabling them to earn over $5000 collectively.
Andra and Aaron printing Stewart Hoosan's Ringer design
To date, we have engaged and paid thirteen models from Minyerri, Wadeye, Kalumburu and Katherine. We look forward to engaging more Aboriginal models from across remote Australia as we continue our journey of bringing these textiles to the world.
Molly Rex, Jordan Unghango, Trina Bundamurra and Zerika Clement modelling for the Kalumburu Photography Collective (Photo: Freedom Garvey)
Winnie Duncan modelling Injalak Arts' Graham Badari's rock wallaby and echidna print dress in Katherine
Phelecia Daylight from Minyerri in Bede Tungatalum's Tiwi Bird print dress (photo: Rhett Hammerton)
In late 2017 Magpie Goose engaged three Aboriginal photographers from Kalumburu Photography Collective to shoot a look book for Magpie Goose. This was constructed as an enterprise learning project, with the photographers responding to a brief with an allocated budget. The project involved location scouting, recruiting and directing models, editing photos and supplying the final photos to Magpie Goose.
We look forward to undertaking more collaborations with Aboriginal photographers.
The Kalumburu Photography Collective (and models)- group photo
e. Accessory design
In 2018 we worked with Elbow Workshop (great design partnership in Alice Springs) 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 have delivered this earring making workshops to artists in three communities to date (Katherine, Alice, HopeVale), and will continue to run these workshops with communities we are working with on textile design! Read the full blog post here.
3. Providing enterprise learning opportunities and illuminating pathways into the fashion industry through our Fashion Futures initiative
We are passionate about fostering inclusion within the fashion industry. We seek to illuminate opportunities and pathways for Aboriginal people living in remote Australia to engage with the industry and offer relevant and engaging work experience opportunities within Magpie Goose wherever possible.
In early 2018 we piloted an initiative called Fashion Futures in Katherine. Fashion Futures was inspired by other successful youth empowerment programs that use fashion and modelling as a vehicle for building self-esteem and confidence (eg. Kimberley Girl in the Kimberley region of WA and Yapa Styles in Alice Springs, NT).
Fashion Futures participants backstage at the fashion show finale at Godinyamayin
The pilot was designed as a fun and ambitious personal development, education and training program that aimed to build the self-confidence, resilience and ambitions of young Aboriginal women using the platform of fashion and modelling.
We received funding for this initiative from the NT Department of Health Alcohol and Other Drug diversionary grants program, Godinymayin Yijard Rivers Arts and Cultural Centre (GYRACC) and WOW Australia, and sponsorship from YMCA Top End, Kalano Aboriginal Corporation and STARS Foundation.
We hope to foster many more projects and initiatives under the ‘Fashion Futures’ banner.
Some of the Fashion Futures crew modelling and photographing earrings they'd made in the program
4. Providing a positive way for people to connect with Aboriginal culture
The clothes that we create using the textiles designed by Aboriginal artists provide an opportunity for people to connect with, learn about and celebrate Aboriginal cultures. We see Magpie Goose as a powerful platform to showcase and share these designs and stories, and we work hard to do this – through growing the market for our clothing, and through our communication channels. The artist videos and bios we create enable people to hear directly from the artists themselves, and we form a connection that goes beyond simply the item of clothing. We receive regular feedback from our customers about how much they value this opportunity.
Laura showing some people videos of artists talking about their designs, at Sydney Finders Keepers Markets