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LEADING EDGE: Benalla artist Maggie Hollins with her eco-printed, indigo-dyed interpretation of an ‘indigo kilt’. Photos: Jamie Kronborg

BENALLA and Beechworth textile and visual artists stepped into frontier interpretations of Beechworth Arts Council’s inaugural Elements of Indigo art-to-artwear project in Beechworth on November 10.

Maggie Hollins, Inga Hanover, Kay Hampton and Daren John Pope exhibited their radically distinctive takes on the brief for the Spring Arts 2018 project – to design and make a navel-to-knees garment that expressed connection to place in a way similar to that by which Celts display ‘cultural badging’ with tartan.

Arts Council president Jamie Kronborg said the creative idea stemmed from the tradition that forms and styles of clothing throughout history have evolved to identify a people’s tribe, clan, community, place, culture and even country.

RADICAL: Detail of Daren John Pope’s split pin-fastened ‘kilt’ with its old, repeating images of Beechworth and Indigo.

“In this project, as the Arts Council’s contribution to the development of Beechworth’s longstanding Celtic Festival, participating artists were encouraged to tease apart the idea and tradition of tartan and re-work it to identify the communities of Indigo,” he said.

The two-phase project – a visual design and a created garment interpreting the form of a kilt – asked entrants to depict or express ‘elements of Indigo’ – its sky, landscapes, colours, seasons, geology, topography, plants, crops, animals and birds, and other inspirations.

“A kilt is a traditional skirt that covers from navel to knees and has a deep history in Gaelic, Norse, Mediterranean, Tartar and First Peoples’ cultures,” Mr Kronborg said. “The Old Norse word kjalta means ‘pleated’ – of a ‘garment or cloth tucked up and around the body’. Australia’s First Peoples wore skirts or coverings made from grass, bark, and kangaroo, wallaby and possum skins decorated with feathers and echidna quills and tooled imagery.”

Ms Hollins, from Benalla, used a re-purposed woollen blanket as the base for her work.

Elements of Indigo’s five interpretations will be exhibited in Beechworth Town Hall from November 12 to 25.