Carol McGregor is of Wathaurung (Victoria) and Scottish descent. She works across multi-media disciplines with materials including ephemeral natural fibres, metal, and paper. Her recent art practice revives the traditional possum skin cloak as an art form and a way to strengthen community and individual identities.
The research project Art of the Skins: un-silencing and remembering is a cultural revitalisation initiative engaging Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities from the Sunshine Coast, Brisbane and Gold Coast. Investigations into the material culture of South East Queensland revealed that possum skin cloaks were an integral part of cultural life but there was no contemporary practice of making them.
Carol sees the cloaks as authoritative mediums for healing, cultural renewal and reclamation. Utilising decolonising methodologies, it became essential to share and empower the SEQ Indigenous community with this knowledge along with the skills involved with cloak making. With consultations and protocols in place, Carol coordinated a series of workshops and along with Glennys Briggs (a Taungwurrung-Yorta Yorta woman and fellow Griffith graduate of QCA’s Contemporary Australian Indigenous Art), created six community possum skin cloaks.
Through a partnership with the State Library of Queensland, Art of the Skins is a major exhibition, showcasing six possum skin cloaks from South East Queensland. The need to tell our own stories is an important form of resistance and this art form celebrates our stories and survival.
Possum skin cloak