The Federation Tapestry: Making Do

This panel forms the fifth in the suite of tapestries which make up the Federation Tapestry.

Federation Tapestry: Making Do

Making Do

Making Do, designed by the tapestry’s principal artist/designer Murray Walker, recognises Australian resourcefulness and self-reliance and the way Australians have created a spoken and written language unique to themselves. It also honours anonymous Australians – those whose names are not recorded in Australian history books, but whose lives have helped form our nation. It is a celebration of some aspects of our unacknowledged history.

Artwork for Making Do

Artwork for Making Do

The design incorporates examples of the Australian vernacular, including instances of the craft tradition of ‘making do’, or creating something useful or decorative using ‘found’ objects. Peppered throughout the design are examples of Australian colloquial sayings which have developed over time.

The centrepiece of the design depicts the Eureka flag that was flown over the Eureka Stockade in Ballarat in 1854. It was made from fabric remnants including pieces from the petticoat owned by a miner’s wife.

At the top from left to right, Bruce Petty’s small pen and ink drawings provide glimpses of 19th century rural life, including mining, exploring and settling in the tropics. Dispersed throughout the design are artefacts sourced from regional art and museum collections and small drawings from Koorie students from Echuca Primary School in central Victoria.

Many of the artefacts depicted are children’s toys made from scraps, and there is a pair of much-mended workmen’s boots. Children used the unfamiliar tools of pen and ink to write out some Australian sayings, and Les Murray’s quote was written especially for this panel.

The blue colour throughout this tapestry symbolises the radiant blue of the Australian sky and sea. The gold and green denotes the sunburnt land. The theme of Australian land, sea and sky is one of the continuing themes of the Federation Tapestry.

The depiction of the toys was a demanding task for the weavers who worked to capture the variety of materials and the distressed appearance which is a feature of many Australian folk artefacts. The weavers also needed to capture the quality of the fading ink of the text.

Woven samples and a section of the design for Making Do

Woven samples and a section of the design for Making Do

Making Do

Designer: Murray Walker and incorporating text by Les Murray, (especially commissioned for the Federation Tapestry), lettering by Murray Walker and school students from Malvern Central School, Victoria, drawings by Bruce Petty and Koori children from Echuca Primary School, Victoria. Other images are sourced from regional art galleries and museum collections.

Size: 200 x 438 cm

The Federation Tapestry was supported by the Commonwealth Government through the Federation Fund.

Further Reading

Latreille, Anne and Walker, Murray 2001. The Federation Tapestry: one people united in peace. Catalogue available from the Victorian Tapestry Workshop and the Melbourne Museum Shop

Walker, Sue (Ed.) 2000. Modern Australian Tapestries from the Victorian Tapestry. Workshop. The Beagle Press.

1995. Australian Tapestries from the Victorian Tapestry Workshop.

Brochures: Victorian Tapestry Workshop, Melbourne’s Marvellous Tapestries

Video: 1997 Contemporary Australian Tapestries from the Victorian Tapestry Workshop.

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