PET Lamp X Bula’bula artists for the NGV Triennial
Words: Manuela Millan
Following on from our previous article introducing the PET Lamp project, we were lucky enough to catch up with Alvaro as he was preparing for the upcoming NGV Triennial exhibition which will feature the PET Lamp collaboration with the Bula’bula artist weavers from Ramingining in the Northern Territory.
PET Lamp was invited by the National Gallery of Victoria to travel to Australia where they immersed themselves in the community at Ramingining in Australia’s north, working with eight indigenous artist weavers to create stunning circular lampshades using traditional local techniques.
The woven lampshades are made from pandanus palm tree leaves and feature the signature loose fringe of Bula’bula weavings. The rich earthy colours come from pigment extracted from the roots and leaves of local plants, which are pulverised, boiled with the pandanus leaves, and then dried in the sun.
The PETlamp team immersed themselves in the local community for the duration of the workshop and shared many memorable experiences. Alvaro was adopted by one of the artist weavers, Mary, who took him and the head of Product Development Enrique Romero de la Llana barefoot crab hunting in the mangroves near Ramingining.
The idea of combining the individual lampshades into one giant piece grew out of the multi-layered links which connect the artist weavers involved in the project. It began when Mary, a twin, brought two lamps instead of one, explaining that as a twin she has a dual vision of the world and always creates in pairs. This spurred the idea of connecting all the works together along family, geographic and spiritual bonds, eventually leading to the two completed works: Ramingining: Bukmukgu Guyananhawuy (Every family thinking forward) #1 & #2.
Alvaro and his team were struck by the remarkable visual similarity between the combined woven artwork and traditional indigenous paintings.
We feel that there is a strong connection between the painting and the textile. They almost look like they are woven paintings and the paintings almost look woven.
The next challenge was how to hang the work and bring electricity to the many bulbs without intruding or overshadowing the artwork. PET Lamp has created a fine and unobtrusive wire system which serves as both structural anchor and electrical wiring without detracting from the power of the piece. When lit up it creates an intricate pattern of shadow and light on the ceiling above while illuminating the fine detail and bringing an enhanced sense of awe to the observer.
The work is visually spectacular both in size and complexity and it is difficult to describe the feeling of seeing it in person. It is a testament to the skill of the Ramingining artist weavers and the dedication of the PET Lamp team to push the boundaries of ecology, design, and social impact to create a complex and meaningful piece of art.
Ramingining: Bukmukgu Guyananhawuy (Every family thinking forward) #2 is on display at the National Gallery of Victoria as part of the Triennial exhibitoin from 15 December 2017 until 15 April 2018.