Issue 7
Monday, 02 September 2019
Charles Darwin University
Margaret Palmer (left) and Vicki Crowley with some of their papier-mâché works. Image courtesy Alan O’Connor
Margaret Palmer (left) and Vicki Crowley with some of their papier-mâché works. Image courtesy Alan O’Connor

Exhibition remembers home-run heroes of the ’80s

By Patrick Nelson

A collection of striking papier-mâché models inspired by a victorious Red Centre softball team has been exhibited in a South Australian art gallery.

Made by Charles Darwin University PhD candidate Vicki Crowley and Amoonguna (Amwengkwerne) softball star Margaret Palmer, the works were part of the broader Women Out West exhibition displayed at Gallery Yampu in Port Adelaide.

Ms Crowley said the 12-piece installation titled “the old ladies came to watch us play” consisted of a car, a caravan tuckshop, four softball players, and several women spectators. Each object is about a metre high.

“The installation represents the pleasure, pride and power of Indigenous women and especially the Amoonguna softball team, which unexpectedly blitzed the Alice Springs B-grade competition to win the premiership in 1982,” Ms Crowley said.

“The aim was to try to capture the success, laughter, as well as the deadly seriousness that these women experienced almost 40 years ago.”

Ms Crowley said her association and friendship with the Amoonguna community east of Alice Springs dated back four decades to when she worked there as an educator.

“The team played in homemade uniforms and with borrowed gloves, masks, bats and balls. They displayed a ‘dead eye, a ‘good arm’ and could hit the ball a mile.

“Margaret was the first-base player and won the best and fairest award. Off the pitch, we taught together, and we made some papier-mâché which won a prize at the Alice Springs Show.”

Ms Crowley said today’s papier-mâché installation was a visual representation of a story that belonged to the women of Amwengkwerne.

“They asked that their recollections be made visible, recorded, presented and enjoyed. They asked that their experience, passion, skill and belonging be recorded and understood on their terms.”