Wearable art stuns in new collaboration

March 24, 2022

Yankunytjatjara artist Linda Puna has just released a capsule collection of jackets and coats, co-designed with ethical fashion label Unreal Fur, set to be released in stores and online this week. The collection was revealed to the public at her very first solo exhibition, Awari (Wow!) at Alcaston gallery in Melbourne at her launch on 22 March.

Linda’s unique paintings combine rainbow pastel palette backgrounds amongst intricate brushwork inspired by her growing up on her Country, Tjukurpa (The Dreaming) and the modern surroundings of her beloved local community of Mimili on the Anangu Pitjantjatjara Yankunytjatjara Lands.

A founding member of her local art centre, Mimili Maku Arts, Linda has been an outstanding member of her community since she made her first painting back in 2006, quickly developing a distinctive style. She is a champion for disability rights, and a role model for young women in her community, showing there is such strength and power in self expression and pride of culture.

This incredible collaboration project has been almost two years in the making, when Unreal Fur contacted Mimili Maku Arts Centre to see if Linda could work with them on a new line of outerwear in 2020.

It took time to ensure everything was in place, right down to the finest detail so both the artist is happy with the way their art is represented, and the products are of exceptional quality. When asked of her favourite piece in the collection, Linda replied:

My favourite piece is the long puffer. It’s such a great and colourful jacket. I love it. I loved seeing my sisters and family here in Mimili wearing this long jacket, and it will be great for winter, keeping everyone warm at night!”

Linda Puna telling stories during the last night of the photo shoot in Mimili Community. Photo: Meg Hansen. Courtesy the artist and Mimili Maku Arts.

Arlette Martin, Copyright Agency’s Visual Arts Business Development Manager worked closely with both Mimili Maku Arts, Linda Puna and Unreal Fur to ensure the licence was a success, which was no small task:

“We have been working on this licence since the end of August 2020. With licences for fashion and homewares especially, it’s not an overnight thing and it is quite a lengthy process to ensure best practices and protocols are put in place to protect the artist and the artwork.

The licensing process begins from the initial discussions with the artist and the brand to see if their vision for the project is aligned, where the best outcome is defined in terms of the brand treating the artist fairly, and the artist understanding the brand and what they require. It then continues right up to the final showing. My role is to make sure that I have thought everything out – troubleshooting, understanding and identifying what could go wrong and figuring out the agreement, right through to the exhibition on 22 March at Alcaston Gallery.

We had a zoom meeting with Mimili Maku Art Centre manager Anna Wattler, Linda Puna and a translator to go through the concepts, the vision, negotiations on licensing fees, terms and conditions and approvals. We like to maintain transparency throughout the process so that the artist has a voice in every aspect of the collaboration, and every approval stage with the help of the art centre manager as well, so that the project is a success, which it is!”

Mimili youth modelling Linda Puna’s collection on country. L-R: Priayangka Fielding, Nathaniel Yaiyai, Quentin Cooke, Travis Smith, Silas Shilling, Xavier Hampton, Zeldon Fielding, Peshwah Fielding.Photo by Meg Hansen. Courtesy the models and Mimili Maku Arts.

It was important to Linda to support young people in Mimili Community by helping them to develop skills in creative expression through photography, modelling and videography to promote the new line with a fashion shoot their own backyard. The clothing looks so striking amongst the red desert backdrop and the night time campfire scenes.

Linda beams at the thought of people across the world wearing her artwork: “I am so very proud. My body is literally bursting with joy in every part, knowing that I’ve achieved this. It’s very special for me and my family. I’m the first one here at the art centre that’s ever designed jackets that way and I’m really proud to be opening this door for my family also. I am so proud to know that my artwork will be traveling all over the world, to many different countries and worn by people from all cultures in the cities.”

Copyright Agency would like to congratulate Linda Puna, Mimili Maku Arts and Unreal Fur on the fabulous new collection, and we thank you for working with us on such a rewarding project.

The Linda Puna X Unreal Fur collection will be stocked at a number of museum stores around the country as of this week, as well as for online sale via Unreal Fur from Tuesday, March 22 from their website here.