Textile Society of America


Date of this Version



Crosscurrents: Land, Labor, and the Port. Textile Society of America's 15th Biennial Symposium. Savannah. GA. October 19-23. 2016.


Copyright 2016 by Louise Hamby and Valerie Kirk.


A quote from Florence Gutchen, an artist from Erub (Darnley Island) in the Torres Strait, 180 kms NE of mainland Australia, sets the scene for this document. “We hear the wind…We are seafarer people. Our livelihood depends on the sea. We are saltwater people and we are the seafarers.” The geographic location of her current home is crucial to the understanding of not only the textiles artists produce but to all of their work. Their island in the eastern part of Torres Strait plays a major part in how their identity as Erubians is expressed through textiles. This paper primarily examines the ways in which their clothing and recent use of printed fabric reflect the influence of their island home, impact of trade in the Pacific and links with outsiders