Winning artwork links heritage with culture


The artwork “lucky too, the patron saint for all things protected” is woven from fishing line, incorporating a crocodile skull along with basketry techniques.

Charles Darwin University PhD candidate Aly de Groot has won the 2013 Togart Contemporary Art Award for her artwork. 

The winning piece is part of her PhD studio series “Underwater Basket Weaving”, a collection of artworks experimenting with marine debris combined with contemporary basket-making techniques to make woven sculpture, wearable art and ghost net baskets.

A particular focus of her candidature involved facilitating a ghost net weaving workshop on Groote Island, in north-east Arnhem Land.

“Once they are removed from the oceans and beaches, marine debris such as ghost nets continue to be an ecological burden, becoming landfill or omitting poisonous greenhouse gases when they are burnt,” Ms de Groot said. “Through my work I hope to establish a creative avenue to educate people about and dispose of this dire environmental threat.”

An Australian visual artist of Dutch descent, Ms de Groot said an integral element of her studio-based research included an exploration of her Dutch origins by taking her art practice to the Netherlands.

“The importance of maintaining a strong connection with one’s own culture and ancestry has become increasingly apparent to me, particularly through my collaboration projects with both Indigenous and non-Indigenous artists in Northern Australia,” she said.

“My research methodology involved an interweaving of the histories of the two contrasting places, which are connected, by history and name. The contrasts and similarities between these places became the foundation of my creative practice whilst in the Netherlands.

“I believe that basket-making is an ancient discourse, relevant and important in contemporary society.”

The award was open to all artists who have based their practice within Northern Australia or whose work demonstrates a strong connection to the North.

The award exhibition will remain open to the public until Friday 18 October at the Chan Contemporary Art Space, Darwin. As the winner Ms de Groot received $15,000.


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