Crafting a More Inclusive Democracy
Yumi Olgeta (pronounced 'Yumi Olgeda') means 'you and me, together' in Bislama language (pronounced 'Bishlama'). This was the way that the Australian South Sea Islanders, kidnapped from over 80 islands of the Vanuatu and Solomon Islands, communicated with one another during the blackbirding period of 1847 and 1908. Through Yumi Olgeta we are hoping to raise awareness of Australia's Slave Trade History and improve the lives of the descendants of blackbirding now and in the future.
Click on this chain stitch photo to hear a short U-Tube video of Bislama language being spoken....
Our first Workshop
On Saturday the 17th August, 2019 Yumi Olgeta:Crafting a More Inclusive Democracy Workshop was held at the Museum of Australian Democracy at Old Parliament House, Canberra.
Along with the incredibly dynamic Waskam Emelda Davis, the Chairwoman of the Australian South Sea Islanders - Port Jackson who has blackbirding heritage from the islands of Tanna, Ambae and Santo and proud Torres Strait Islander woman Aunty Lydia George, also with blackbirded heritage from Penticost, Solomon Islands and Lifu, I conducted a Chain Stitch workshop for participants to help them learn a new skill while digesting truth telling and the history of the Australian Slave Trade. Craft is a great way to relax and take in information in a gentle way that can be easily digested.
To show the possibilities of simple chain stitch, I completed the block using our selected colours from the Australian South Sea Islanders - Port Jackson logo. We are encouraging participants to consider their skill level. Simple chain can be used effectively for a flat all over finish using the colours provided in the workshop.
However, participants can also branch out using the instructions given to try 8 other chain stitch styles. There are approximately 100 different types of chain stitch so there's plenty to learn. I will be offering demonstrations via Instagram and Facebook over the next few months to show how the 9 stitch types are worked as shown on the sampler below.
Project 1: 25th Anniversary ASSI Commemorative Quilt
And you can join in the fun too! If you would like to contribute to this Yumi Olgeta Project the Museum of Australian Democracy have published my Absolute Beginner Instructions along with more complex Chain Stitch Instructions and the thread colours to be used.They have also given you the Embroidery Design as well. I will also be posting instruction videos on Instagram and Facebook.
To join in, you will need to do the following.
Find a piece of sand coloured linen, cotton or calico and cut it to at least size 20cm x 20cm. If you use pinking shears the edges will fray less quickly.
Download the Embroidery Instructions (Absolute Beginners to Advanced) from the Museum of Australian Democracy Website by clicking on the photo below and scrolling down.
Download and save the Embroidery Design from the Museum of Australian Democracy website by clicking on the photo below and scrolling down. Once saved, print the image. Then reduce the image to 69% of the original image and it will be exactly the right size of 14 cm x 14 cm.
Transfer the image to your fabric using a light box or window using a pencil or Iron off pen like a flexion pen found at Office supply stores for $3-4.
Find or purchase your DMC 25 Embroidery Cotton in the colours outlined on the last page of your Instruction Sheets.
Find an Embroidery needle that has a large enough eye to easily thread depending on your skill level.
Start to fill in the design using colours from the chart. You can use any combination of these colours using any type of chain stitch. The instructions only list 9 but there are plenty more to chose from! You are welcome to include applique but please stick to the colours outlined on the colour chart. You can fill in the background or leave it blank. It is completely up to you.
Watch my instruction videos on Instagram and Facebook for more information about how to do the 9 Chain Stitch types on my Sampler.
Post your progress shots and finished work under #yumiolgeta. Feel free to send me your photos and I will endeavour to post them on my page if you wish.
For the Chain Stitch Instructions and the Embroidery Design CLICK on the chain stitch image below:
Returning Your Completed Embroidery
Don't forget to include the following:
- Full name
- Contact number
- Short statement about what inspired you to contribute to this project
- What you have learnt from your involvement
Due date: extended to early March 2020.
What will happen to your embroidery?
Then from Mar - May 2020 I will collaborate with the Australian South Sea Islanders and the women from Vanuatu Arts and Krafts to design and stitch a centrepiece/s for the quilt. To keep an organic feel to the finished work the quilt will be hand pieced and hand quilted during June-July 2020. The finished work will be presented to the Museum of Australian Democracy during the celebrations leading up to the 26th Anniversary of the ASSI recognition on 25th August 2020 which is a dream come true! This means the whole process will have taken a year to complete, highlighting the slow nature of stitching and the power of the group taking one step - or stitch - at a time, together in the spirit of Yumi Olgeta.
Your contribution is deeply appreciated. If you have any questions, concerns or tips about this page please don't hesitate to contact me. And if you cannot afford the materials, let me know and I will see what I can do to support as we want everyone to be included in this project.
Future Craftivism Projects
Australian South Sea Islanders (Port Jackson) (ASSIPJ) was formed in Sydney NSW with the support of an elder’s council and younger ASSI community leaders in 2010. The purpose of ASSIPJ was to build on past and continue the much-needed advocacy work that will eventually see the truth told of a history that is challenging, conflicting and very complex for the descendants of Australia’s Blackbirding trade.
The ASSIPJ journey has been one of both extreme frustration and heartache as well as breakthrough and joy as we worked for the recognition of some 60,000 Melanesian men and women that were stolen, culturally kidnapped and displaced from the eighty islands of Vanuatu and Solomons. This included many children who were not documented on ship-logs. These people were forced into a Sugar Slave trade and worked alongside First Nations peoples in pastoral, maritime and other industries that established the economic base of our country.
Today, some 172 years later, the work of ASSIPJ and many ASSI organisations continues to advocate for inclusion, with minimal progress. This in a country that prides itself on Diversity and Inclusion through Multiculturalism as part of the great Australian narrative.
This year marks the 25th Anniversary of the recognition of Australian South Sea Islanders by the 1994 Keating Government as suffering severe discrimination and racism. The recognition by that Government of the community as a ‘distinct cultural group’ who valued our islands of origin and cultural heritage promised greater inclusion in programs and services.