Women of Utopia
This clip from a Film Australia documentary is about the Aboriginal women of Utopia Station near Alice Springs in Central Australia, who run their own artists' program.
In 1973 a government-sponsored program led to artist Jenny Green arriving in Utopia to teach the women the art of batik.
In this clip the women are shown painting and dyeing batik. They talk about the plants and animals which inspire the motifs used in their designs.
It's worth looking out for internationally renowned artist Emily Kame Kngwarreye in this clip – she is wearing a red scarf. Though known more as a painter, Kngwarreye began her practice making batiks.
Despite the remoteness of their community, the beautiful art made by the women of Utopia is bought by collectors both within Australia and internationally.
Batik is a method of decorating textiles by creating designs in hot wax to fabric, followed by various dyes. The process may be repeated several times before removing the wax in boiling water.
Wax-resist dyeing of fabric is an ancient art form. It existed in Egypt in the 4th Century BCE, and was most highly developed on the island of Java, Indonesia.
Excerpt from Women of Utopia, 1984 – Film Australia Collection.