Bull kelp vessels were traditionally made by Aboriginal women of the Furneaux Islands, off the north east and west coast lines of Tasmania (including the main islands of Flinders and Cape Barren). Kelp is a material that is specific to and has been used by Tasmanian Aboriginal people for thousands of years. They have been found to not only be a practical necessity, but to also be a health-related measure. Kelp contains high levels of iodine, which may be why many of the ‘old people’ on the islands reportedly have few thyroid problems. Bull kelp vessels were traditionally used to collect and store fresh water. It became a custom of Palawa women over many generations. Due to the devastation of Tasmanian Aboriginal culture and people during the 1800s and 1900s, many lives, languages and cultural practices (such as the art of kelp water container making) were lost.
Nannette Shaw is a Tyereelore Elder from Tasmania with ties to the Boonwurrung/Bunurong people of Southern Victoria. She continues to harvest mainly on Bruny Island and Louisa Bay in the south west of Tasmania. This practice connects her to Country and culture, benefits her health and nourishes her soul. Nannette enjoys the sense of connection with her ancestors through this work.
Materials: Bull Kelp, Tea Tree, River Reed
Size: 8 x 10 x 12cm