Marnin Studio - the Boab Nut Story
It all started with a boab nut . . . . .
Women staying at Marninwarntikura Women's Shelter started painting boab nuts as part of an art therapy program which used creative expression to help women to heal from experiences of violence. Three women decided to try their luck selling their painted boab nuts around the women's centre. Impressed with entrepreneurial spirit of the ladies, the CEO and deputy CEO decided to purchase them. The women, happy with their payment, made off to the local supermarket to buy tucker for their families.
Later in 2013, a visiting CEO to Marnin commissioned the women to paint 100 boab nuts as end of year gifts for her company. The following year, the Ark Clothing Company bought 300 boab nuts for the Christmas season, enabling Marninwarntikura to transform the boab nut project into a social enterprise that became Marnin Studio. Since then, Marnin Studio has worked with more than 70 women to produce in excess of 3000 painted boab nuts, sold across Australia and overseas.
Throughout the years, visiting artists have returned as artists in residence (AIR), three times each year to build the artistic practice of studio artists and the artistic integrity of their designs. The colours, textures and designs have been informed by Country; the stories of flora and fauna observed by community from the perspective of the seasonal calendar. This reflection upon Country preserves cultural identity and supports the women to connect with each other and community. This process and the products produced through the process build the social and economic participation and power of local women; an outcome central to the vision of Marninwarntikura Women’s Resource Centre to empower local women and their families.
Through participation in the AIR program, studio artists gain an understanding of key concepts including artistic practice, colour ways, design & production techniques; and an understanding of plants and the science of bush dyeing. Professional visiting artists have played a role in early stages of product development with great success, as evidenced by sales of homewares, clothing & accessories as well as lengths of material at Marnin Studio’s shopfront in Fitzroy Crossing and market and shopfront sales in Broome, Perth, Melbourne and Darwin.
The Studio is about more than just making and selling products. It is about celebrating culture through arts practice and connection to country and leveraging the beautiful products developed in the studio to define a new strength-based narrative of the empowerment of women and their families in the Fitzroy Valley. Local women are proud of who they are and where they come from, and the opportunity to showcase their culture through these products strengthens identity within the local community and influences the national psyche by spreading positive stories and sharing traditional knowledges throughout the country.