The Northam Yorgas offer creativity, connection and comfort at their weekly arts & craft sessions, and now women of all ages in the community have been invited to join them.
The Northam Yorgas are a resourceful bunch of local women who have put their creative talent into creating beautiful textiles, including traditional straw-woven animals, jewellery, and painted canvases that are available for sale at the Bilya Koort Boodja gift shop and the WA Museum.
Founding elders Yvonne Kickett and Janet Kickett are keen to see young and non-indigenous women join. For them, the group is a vital space for them to share stories, support each other, and be inspired to create.
“Coming here and being able to be part of this group means everything to me,” says Yvonne with heartfelt emotion. She shows me her many canvases that are on display at the Bilya Koort Boodja gallery and points to an untitled canvas that she is particularly proud of – it captures the elements of life, the seasons, geography and fauna of the local area and the stages of her own life journey.
Another canvas, titled Djilgi or Crayfish, shares Yvonne’s love for the freshwater delicacy, which she has gathered with her family from the banks of the Avon River, for generations.
You have to have a keen eye to spot their homes along the river bank, warns Janet, and sometimes you’ll be up to your armpits in water, trying to ferret them out but it’s worth the effort. No need for a complicated recipe when the ingredients are this good – just cook them and serve them straight with a little mayonnaise mixed with tomato sauce, if you’re feeling a little fancy.
Every piece of art has special significance to Yvonne and Janet, and every conversation reveals memories and stories that bind them irrevocably to the local landscape.
If you are interested in joining the Northam Yorgas, please contact Bilya Koort Boodja. The group meets every Wednesday, from 11.30am to 2.30pm, for a $4 fee.