Cotton On Foundation Celebrates NAIDOC Week
This week marks NAIDOC week and to celebrate, the Cotton On Foundation (COF) has collaborated with Ganybu, an artist from the remote community of Yirrkala in Northeast Arnhem land to design a limited edition tote, with 100% of proceeds going back to COF’s programs in the area.
NAIDOC Week celebrations are held annually across Australia in July to celebrate the history, culture and achievements of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. NAIDOC week gives Australians from all walks of life an opportunity to engage in organised events to support the local Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community.
This year’s theme, BECAUSE OF HER WE CAN, celebrates women and calls out the pivotal place they hold as role models within all levels of the community.
In true testament to the theme, Ganybu’s artwork was inspired by a design that belongs to her maternal grandmother’s clan, Rirratiŋu.
This design is based on my print, Yathiny. Yathiny is a type of jellyfish. When turtles start to return to the beaches to lay their eggs, yathiny is the food that they feed on at this time. My print shows small and big yathiny together that wash up on the shores of North East Arnhem Land during Rarranhdharr (dry season)” she said.
COF has worked with communities in North East Arnhem Land since 2013, partnering with the Yolŋu people to deliver a number of development projects which support indigenous youth, including the expansion of the Buku Larrnggay Mulka Arts Centre. Working alongside the Yolŋu community leaders, COF aims to support initiatives which foster a positive connection to culture and improve educational outcomes for these young people.
Cotton On Foundation Projects Operations Manager Sarah Spiker said Mulka delivers a variety of workshops to young people each term.
Our support and focus on these programs allows Mulka to connect with young people through modern and exciting activities. These programs are designed to encourage confidence, self-expression and celebrate cultural identity, while keeping them engaged in school and helping them develop new skills. From music and art, to gaming and film and photography, we are seeing phenomenal talent coming out of this region, and our collaboration with Ganybu is the perfect example” she said.
NAIDOC week celebrations extended to the Cotton On Group Global Support Centre in Geelong, where team members were took part in intimate panel style discussions hosted by Spiker to gain insight into the Yirrkala culture and the contribution COF has made to the community.
Guest speakers included Northern Territory Community Elder, Djalinda, a celebrated artist in her own right; COF’s NT correspondent Andrea Kingston who has spent 22 years living in Yirrkala; and COF General Manager, Tim Diamond.
Team members learnt that in addition to the Mulka Arts Centre, COF has partnered with Dhimurru Aboriginal Corporation to develop their ‘Learning on Country’ program. Learning on Country is run with a mission to sustain and protect Yolŋu culture and knowledge in Northeast Arnhem Land under the leadership of community members young and old.
School students work with Dhimurru’s rangers, elders and teachers outdoors and in a classroom environment to discover the intricacies of their culture and history through traditional ceremonies, song, dance and storytelling.