Across the Arts

In April and through to the beginning of May in 2021, I went to Wangaratta to participate in a festival called Across the Arts. GANEAA hosted the festival and invited me to run a community art project as well as two day workshops. In the week leading up to the main events I worked with about a dozen people in the community to create a pair of platypuses out of wild willow. Then during the weekend of the festival I ran weaving workshops; weaving birds on Saturday May 1 and weaving platypuses on Sunday May 2.

The wild willow collected from the Hepburn Shire is transported to Wangaratta, ready for the start of the project.
Day 1 Saturday April 24, the leaves are stripped off the willow wands ready for weaving.
Day 2 Sunday April 25, willow hoops are tied together to make body shapes similar to a paper plan. Ten people collaborated over the day to create bodies, heads and tails needed to create a pair of platypuses.
The willow hoop constructions were then “fleshed out” with random weaving.
This process takes more time and willow than you think!
Care is taken to weave a bill onto the head by one of the participating Artists.
After lunch two groups collaborated to join the platypus body parts carefully referring to the paper plans. See one of the platypuses above sitting on-top of the drawn design.
The second platypus, at the end of the day. Each platypus was unique and carefully created to design so that when finished they look like a breeding pair swimming through the water.
Day 3 Monday April 26, it was time for a group to make the legs by weaving long willow wands into the body at the right position. Small bits of willow were randomly woven in to “flesh out” the legs.
The webbing of the platypuses feet added fine detail to the final artworks. Little loops of flax are called “pretzels” were woven together to create randomly woven surfaces that were stitched behind the willow wands to create the webbing of the feet.
Here is a randomly woven surface that is ready to be stitched behind the willow to finish a webbed foot.
A finished webbed foot. See how the flax has been used to stitch the surface behind the willow.
The platypuses…
A detail of the platypuses…
Workshop Saturday May 1, making birds from flax and willow.
Workshop Sunday May 2, making platypuses from flax and willow.