Workshop series

If you would like to know more about Tasmanian Aboriginal culture, join us for a fascinating and informative day with some of Tasmania’s most talented Aboriginal artists.

The Design Forum Tasmania is hosting two practical workshops, introducing participants to Tasmania’s Aboriginal heritage.  This is a unique opportunity to connect and learn from leading artists while gaining a greater appreciation of Tasmanian Aboriginal culture and history whilst being introduced to skills utilised in customary craft.

Sessions will be tutored by Tony Brown, Senior Curator of Indigenous Arts at the Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery along with artists Brendon Brown, Lola Greeno and Vicki West.

The men’s workshop will include an information session detailing the investigation into bark canoe making, followed by a practical model making session.

The women’s natural fibre and kelp workshop will introduce the artist’s personal background in textile experimentation and invention followed by a session of contemporary practice in both mediums.

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Touring news

On Friday 27 August, we were very happy to be visited by the Minister for the Arts David O’Byrne, along with his advisor Astrid Wootton and State Labor Member for Bass Brian Wightman.

We were even happier to be notified of Arts Tasmania’s approval of funding to develop a touring program for rrala manta manta.

The successful application will support the employment of a Tour Coordinator to manage a national touring schedule.

Should your organisation be interested in being a host venue for this exhibition, please contact Design Forum Tasmania on 03 6331 5505 or

Thank you to the Minister, to Arts Tasmania, in particular the Aboriginal Arts Fund, and to all the artists who have made this project possible!

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Frank Panucci – Official rrala manta manta opening celebration speech

On Wednesday 25 August, Frank Panucci of Community Partnerships, Australia Council for the Arts, addressed the large crowd at Design Centre Tasmania. Before officially opening the rrala manta manta exhibition, Frank recognised the traditional owners of the land, and presented the following…

“It is fitting that rrala manta manta assumes an important position at the opening of the Junction 2010, Regional Arts Australia conference.

At its core, rrala manta manta is MORE than an exhibition – although clearly, it is a very fine exhibition. rrala manta manta: strong; long way, long time is about sharing through storytelling; in the process building communities, and strengthening and articulating identities – RECLAIMING, MAINTAINING and CELEBRATING.

But – at the centre – what is being shared?

rrala manta manta goes beyond a formal sharing of skills, traditions and philosophies that have been explored in workshops  and will be explored in tomorrow’s forum, and goes beyond the strategic dimension of cultural maintenance – as crucial as intergenerational learning is.

In my experience of the rrala manta manta exhibition, that ‘going beyond’ reveals two themes for me:


The heart is the vital organ integral to the health and maintenance of the physical being – the physical presence.

But it is also a home for deeply held emotional and spiritual experience – something that  transcends the physical and exists fully formed and fully realised in glimpses, in fragments, and outside of linear time.  It is a layered, powerful, complementary blend…

The nature of quiet contemplation and explosive physicality in the works of rrala manta manta are balanced harmoniously through complementarity: traditional skills and contemporary forms; visual and physical forms, and aural abstraction that is carried on and in the air; a use of positive and negative space that is simple but layered in its approach and meaning.

And this is all SELF-DETERMINED.  The discourse is not managed, it is not contrived, it is not censored.  It is an articulate communication that goes beyond words – a reclaiming of space and of assurance; a maintenance and evolution of forms and lessons at the hearts of cultural self-identity, representation, understanding and sharing; and celebration through connecting within and to a diverse range of communities.

The connection is important.

It is clear that a strong sense of bonded social capital exists in  this group of artists, the expert Steering Committee, and their respective communities.  Connection also exists to and through tradition to new ways of working that can express new ideas, express old ideas to new listeners and thinkers, help express hopes and aspirations, and can critically dissect the changing natures and impacts of colonial exploitation.

And this connectedness is achieved because artists are leaders, can give expression to communities’ unheard or silenced voices in a potent distilled language that goes beyond the limitations of the fixed word (and its attendant prerequisite learning) into the realm of emotional response and collective spirituality – the realm of the heart and shared emotional climes.

And this is rrala manta manta’s challenge.  And it is a challenge posited in Junction 2010 so as to set a tone for self-reflection and growth…

Like rrala manta manta, how can the arts of regional Australia be even more representative of the diversity of practice in community, in towns, in schools, in councils, in hospitals? How can the distinct cultural and political voices of all Australians be given air, and how can these properly feed into a truly representative and self-determined regional Australia?

I’d like to express my congratulations to the artists for a provocative, heart-achingly beautiful exhibition, and commend to you the excellent catalogue essay by Melanie Kershaw.

I take great delight, friends, in declaring rrala manta manta: strong; long way, long time open.”

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Install complete!

Before rrala manta manta was officially opened on Wednesday 25th August by Frank Panucci, Director, Community Partnerships, Australia Council for the Arts, we had a preview and information session for our volunteer team. Below are pictures of the completed installation, pre-opening night…

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Install begins…

On Tuesday last week, we were so fortunate to watch Vicki West (and helpers) install her large bull-kelp installation for rrala manta manta.

Titled Inner Resistance, the piece ‘explores aspects of Aboriginal survival and resistance to colonial invasion’. For a more detailed statement about Inner Resistance, and to learn more about Vicki and the other featured artists, go here.

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Welcome to the blog for Design Forum Tasmania’s rrala manta manta: strong; long way, long time project.

This project will kick off on Wednesday 25th August with the official launch of the exhibition, a showcase of Tasmanian Aboriginal craft and design works.

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