Textile Society of America


Date of this Version



Presented at Textile Society of America 11th Biennial Symposium: Textiles as Cultural Expressions, September 4-7, 2008, Honolulu, Hawai'i. Copyright © 2008 Denise Ava Robinson


People, Land, Spirit is about the deep engagement I have for my homeland, Tasmania. It is about the relationship between people, place and spirit.

Indigenous people live in harmony with the land – their very existence in accordance with rhythms of nature. Many cultures have over time been tattered, scattered or shattered through colonisation, the Tasmanian aboriginal culture being one of them.

Tattered cultures arouse the desire for the retracing of histories, cultural practices and traditions, many of which form the basis of contemporary practices today. These processes bring deeper understanding and awareness: new cultural practices emerge, and the cycles continue.

Sacredness of land lies at the core of Australian aboriginal culture with stories and traditional practices handed down. In the assimilation to white man’s way, aboriginal culture held little relevance and, in many places, the handing down was lost, Tasmania one of them.

Loss of identity and place for the Tasmanian aboriginal people continues to resonate today. Threading and sharing personal stories, retracing and reconstruction of traditional practices slowly resurrects a cultural history – a healing begun.

People, Land, Spirit references my own thread in the complex layered history of the Tasmanian people, both black and white. The struggle of finding my own sense of place in this fragile history continues. Almost invisible stitch marks across distilled panoramic scapes speak of the spiritual journeys through time – honouring the people, land and spirit of my homeland – a personal mending of a fragmented history.