Weaving their magic: Amy Hammond and Lorrelle Munro

Amy Hammond and Lorrelle Munro are co-founders of Yinarr Maramali, a Gomeroi women’s business based in Tamworth on Gomeroi Country. As weavers-in-residence at The Weaving Room, they taught visitors about materials and techniques used in Gomeroi weaving, and engaged in in-depth conversations about culture, tradition and history.

Q: How has your experience of The Weaving Room been?

Amy: We’re so proud to bring our weaving culture and our stories to share on Gadigal Land. It has been interesting to meet so many people and while there were some language barriers, we could communicate and connect through the practise of weaving. It’s felt really meaningful. Participants come in not knowing what to expect and surprise themselves in their ability to weave.

Lorrelle: It’s nice when people finish their weaving and they’re proud of themselves. Some people are here for 15 to 20 minutes, others for a couple of hours or even days. They are genuinely interested in our culture and practices and what materials we’re using on Gomeroi Country.

Q: Your Weaving warrabah and Walgan are displayed on the wall. Beyond the physical nature of these pieces, it seems there is story, community and connection woven into your pieces.

Amy: For Weaving warrabah people are amazed at the scale of the turtle when they walk in the room. Kids are in awe! There were more than 100 Gomeroi women and girls, across four communities who were part of weaving warrabah – each weaving a circle representing a piece of their own story.

Q: Is that how you learnt to weave – through community?

Amy: I learned to weave from a number of very special people in community over the last 12 years. I wove my first stitch with my Manyi Kathy Marika and first wove with and learned about our Lomandra grasses from Uncle Steven Russell.

Lorrelle: I learned to weave with Amy in 2013, and spent the following years continuing to learn more about our weaving culture and grasses, spending time with Amy on Country.

Q: What do you teach them to weave?

Lorrelle: We have been teaching visitors of all ages how to make a bracelet using natural raffia. It was fun to see all their works come to life with their choice of beautiful colours, while we had a yarn and shared our stories. We supported some of the participants to continue their weaving journey by creating a basket, with some coming back for a few days to finish their weaving.

Amy: It’s not just about the physical items either, there is a whole journey we take people on. Going out on Country, cutting the grasses and preparing them how we always have. Getting the grasses is one of our favourite parts of the process. It’s all really slow and done by hand. We don’t have a world for sustainability in our language because it is part of what we do – caring for Country.

Q: It sounds like weaving brings community together?

Amy: Yeah it does. There is weaving happening in so many spaces in Tamworth, where we live. There has been huge resurgence locally and across our communities. Weaving can create a safe space to learn and share culture.

It is really interesting in our workshops when, we have a room full of people weaving and there is silence. Everyone is present. It is quite powerful.

Q: Are there materials or techniques unique to Gomeroi weaving?

Amy: Certainly, that’s one of the beautiful things about weaving. You can look at a basket and know where it comes from. We have grasses and other plants unique to Gomeroi Country that we incorporate into our weaving.

Q: Are there particular questions visitors are asking you?

Lorrelle: Visitors have been interested to learn about the materials we use and our Lomandra weaving grasses. And because these grasses grow in Sydney as well, they recognise them or have them at home and it’s an instant connection.

Amy: They ask us about where we come from and where we learned to weave. I find that people from all backgrounds want to learn about our culture.

Thank you Amy and Lorrelle for being part of The Weaving Room and for sharing your stories, culture and knowledge.

Hero image: Weaving Lomandra on Gomeroi Country. Photo © Jacquie Manning for the Sydney Opera House Uncovered program.

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