The Alice Springs Beanie Festival is a community- based event that began in 1997 with a ‘beanie party’, organised by Adi Dunlop. In the early years, the festival was run by a group of friends including Pamela Bladon, Merran Hughes and Jo Nixon on a volunteer basis. The core group has slowly grown into a committed band of beanie-ologists. We know our beanies! The festival was organised to sell beanies crocheted by Aboriginal women in remote communities. It has grown into a fun event where Aboriginal and non- Aboriginal artists share their culture and exhibit together. The festival is unique because of the incredible amount of community participation and our unique ties with local Aboriginal organisations.The festival’s aims have always been to develop Aboriginal women’s textiles, promote womens’ culture and the beanie as a regional art form, as well as promote handmade textile arts.
Free Beanie making Workshop with Gay Epstein, 2013
In 2004 after much deliberation, the festival incorporated.
The official objects and purposes of our Association are as follows: (a) Promoting community participation in the arts, (b) Developing fine art, (c) Reducing poverty and dependency by developing artistic and entrepreneurial skills, (d) Promoting reconciliation.
Why beanies??? Hand made beanies have long been valued in Central Australia. They are often colourful and individual in pattern and style. Everyone, no matter who they are, needs a beanie to enjoy the outdoors during our crisp, cold winter nights. Centralian craftspeople from remote areas and Alice Springs have taken up the challenge to raise beanie making into a distinctive regional art form. Beanies can be given distinguishing characteristics and decorated with seeds, various fibres and embellishments. There is no limit to the shapes, textures, colours and patterns that are evolving. They are ideal for the tourist market, being light and inexpensive. Every year beanie lovers gather at Witchetty’s in the Araluen Centre, Alice Springs Cultural Precinct, to admire the latest crop of hand crafted beanies. There is an air of anticipation as the artists wonder if their creation might win one of the coveted trophies.Local entertainment and great food make the opening a great night out. Because Central Australia now has a national (indeed, international!) reputation for the production of quirky beanies. The Beanie Festival continues to strengthen its links with the local communities. The Committee continues to be amazed by the strength of the interest in these old crafts, as well as the enthusiasm that reinvents traditional patterns into contemporary creative designs. We have no doubt that beanies are in.
Nellie Peterson showing her tjanpi weaving
Women from the Ngaanyatjarra Pitjantjatjara Yankunytjatjara Women’s Council give demonstrations of Indigenous methods of spinning and basketry each festival. These demonstrations are highly popular, as it is a time of sharing culture and skills. Women from Ernabella also have given wonderful demonstrations of their fibre crafts.
Executive Officer: Jo Nixon
The beanie festival is a non profit organisation.