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National Museum of Australia

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Brown kelp water carrier by Patsy Cameron

2000.0044.0001

Brown kelp water carrier by Patsy Cameron

Object information

Physical description

A brown coloured kelp water carrier, consisting of a single piece of dried bull kelp pierced by two parallel tea tree rods along the length of the carrier, with two twisted fibre handles knotted to the ends of the rods.

Statement of significance

This collection consists of two water carriers, one brown and one black, crafted from bull kelp skewered on parallel tea tree rods. Each carrier has two handles made of fine twisted fibre, perhaps river reed or white flag iris, knotted to the ends of the tea tree rods. The carriers were made by Patsy Cameron, born in 1947, a Tasmanian Aboriginal historian, cultural geographer and elder from Leengtenner (Tomahawk) in the far northeast Tasmania.

The use of bull kelp in the manufacture of water carriers is specific to Tasmanian Aboriginal women and represents their distinct story and their relationships with their natural environment. Water carriers also reveal early European understandings of Tasmanians, with detailed ethnographic illustrations of water carriers being made by artists on the d'Entrecasteaux (1791-94) and Baudin (1800-04) expeditions. These records were referenced by contemporary Tasmanian Aboriginal women to retrieve their traditions of plant and fibre work and maintain authenticity with pre-contact practises. Patsy Cameron's water carriers thus signify renewed and continuing ties with Ancestors and Country, telling personal and community stories of identity, heritage and survival.

Object information

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