Wendy Hubert x Emily Wright

Our latest collaboration, Ngurrawaana, celebrates the artwork of Wendy Hubert of Juluwarlu Art Group across a carefully considered collection.

Wendy Hubert is a respected Yindjibarndi Elder, Cultural Custodian and Linguist who has lived passionately and supported her Roebourne and Yindjibarndi community for more than 40 years.  Wendy’s artworks celebrate the 60,000 year old Yindjibarndi culture and the continuing management and care for their West Pilbara tableland country.

Nancybird founder, Emily, was fortunate to spend time with Wendy in 2023 when Ngurrawaana had a very special moment on the Country to Couture runway during Darwin Aboriginal Art Fair. During this trip, Emily, Wendy Hubert, and Juluwarlu Art Group gathered as the sun rose for a very special photoshoot with photographer Michael Jalaru Torres.

It's been such a honour for Nancybird to work with Wendy Hubert and share this collaboration. Read on as Elle Bernard from Frankie Magazine interviews Wendy Hubert and Emily Wright and shares more about how the collaboration.

Photo: Wendy Hubert, Zali Morgan, Deahna Robinson and Ava Christopher 

Country to Couture – an annual First Nations fashion showcase run by Indigenous Fashion Projects – featured a whopping 22 collections earlier in August. We’ve been fortunate enough to share a chat with respected Yindjibarndi Elder, cultural custodian, linguist and artist Wendy Hubert and artist, fashion designer and Nancybird founder Emily Wright, who collaborated together for C2C. Below, the two designers discuss inspiration and how their recent fashion collection came to be.

Hello ladies, please introduce yourself and a bit of what you do.

Wendy Hubert:
 I am a Guruma woman and Yindjibarndi Elder from the Pilbara.

Emily Wright: I’m the founder of fashion brand Nancybird, which I began in 2002.

When did you first discover a passion for art and how has your artistic journey developed since then? 

 In the 90s, our land was flooded because of the mining and the mud was so deep we were forced to move from our Country. After my husband died years later, I was drawn to the art centre I lived near where the women in the community painted. I decided to try it for myself and I fell back in love with Country, and I’ve been painting ever since. 

Photo: Wendy and Deahna

What inspires your designs and how do you stay inspired? 

 I love my Country and I fight for my Country. There is no other place more beautiful. I paint for this reason and for our elders because they fought so hard for it. My art carries on their fight. I found peace for myself as an artist and I still have that peace in my soul.

Emily: Working in collaboration with an artist is a big source of inspiration – new colour palettes as well as the rich background of an artist’s story always bring a depth and energy to the collection.

Photo: Deahna

How would you describe your relationship with Country and art? 

 Sometimes we lose a bit of ourselves and we need to go back out onto Country and lay under the trees. I just thank my family for taking me out on Country when I was a kid. I know my Ngurra and I know its laws. I am an Yindjibarndi Custodian – old now – but still strong in my thinking and my life.

Photo: Wendy Hubert

Talk to us about being featured in the Indigenous Fashion Projects’ latest Country to Couture runway. 

 It’s been such a fabulous experience to be involved in C2C. I am really proud we have been able to feature Wendy’s work in this collection and across these different mediums; printed flowy cotton dresses, intricate glass beaded pouches and cute leather bags. The collection also features woven checks and knits which all inspired by Wendy’s colour palette. 

Wendy: It was interesting for me to work with Emily. She chose paintings for the collaboration that surprised me, but I loved her choice and how she used them in the designs. She used them in ways I could never imagine and it is so exciting to see my paintings on such beautiful fabrics. It took my breath away. I am very grateful for this experience. 

Photo: Left, Ava and right, Wendy and Emily

How would you describe your own creative process? 

 I like to use a dark or bold block background colour to start. I always think about where the sunlight is coming from, so I can get the shadows just right. I like to paint with big brushstrokes but I also use charcoal, chalk, paint and pens and I’m always experimenting with things.  

Emily: When I work on collaborations, I work personally with the artist in choosing an existing artwork or commissioning a new work. We then draw the colour palette from the artwork, creating palettes for leather, knitwear and woven wear. The collection becomes a wonderful jigsaw of complementary pieces that celebrates the both the artwork and artist.

How did this collaboration come about? 

 Juluwarlu approached me back in 2021 with the idea of collaborating with Wendy. I loved her stunning painted landscapes and I love that her work is so unique. You really feel that you’re there in the Pilbara with her. We jumped at the chance to work with such a respected and celebrated artist. 

How has the experience been working with Wendy and Juluwarlu? 

 I have loved the experience. Having lots of little chats with Wendy about Country and talking about the places in her paintings has deepened my understanding of her work, and I’m excited to have been able to share that with a wider audience.

Photo: Left to right, Ava, Deahna, Zali and Wendy

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