Exhibition explores The Story of Wool image

27 April 2017

From the arrival of the first sheep on the Brig Amity in 1826, sheep and wool have been important to the livelihood and creativity of the Albany community.

This rich history and importance of wool to our community is now being told in The Story of Wool, an exhibition at Vancouver Arts Centre that will open at the Vancouver Street Festival on May 6 and run to June 10.

Curator Annette Davis said compiling the exhibition had taken her on an incredible journey of discovery about the influence sheep and the wool industry had on Albany. "There have been all kinds of incredible stories coming forward about wool production, design, and Noongar achievement in shearing," she said.

The old woollen mills, of which a foundation stone was laid by Premier of WA Sir James Mitchell in March 1924, is one of the most well-known buildings in Albany and an ongoing reminder of the former strength of the local wool industry.

Yarns of those good old days are explored in The Story of Wool, from shearing to spinning and weaving, details of the industry, creativity and skill of local craftspeople comes to life.

Film and sound are used to create an immersive multi-media experience and the exhibition includes contributions from the Felters in the Great Southern, Albany Spinners, Albany Weavers, MIX Artists, the mysterious Purly Queens, ACE Camera Club and a stellar line up of local contemporary artists.

Some of these groups have joined local schools and knitters in contributing to the creation of a 230m woollen scarf which will be wrapped around Vancouver Arts Centre as a feature at the Vancouver Street Festival.

"Great Southern Grammar made a 10m length of scarf using lots of different techniques working with wool," Ms Davis said. "There have been many wonderful contributions to this scarf, it has been a whole-of-community creation and a cross-generational experience."

Another feature of The Story of Wool will be 60 black and white photographs captured by ACE Camera Club members of shearing across the Great Southern region.