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Pakana people

Cape Barren Island, Tasmania, Australia born 1946

Shell necklace [Shell necklace (larger shells)] 1995 Description: includes cockle shells
Place made: Launceston, Tasmania, Australia
Materials & Technique: jewellery, Cockles, Maireener, cat's teeth and button shells, string

Dimensions: circumference 136.0 h cm
Acknowledgement: Purchased 1998
Accession No: NGA 98.138

Lola Greeno is from a long line of Tasmanian Aboriginal women who have made necklaces from local seashells. While she also works as a sculptor, installation and fibre artist, Greeno has been engaged with this craft for over 40 years and works like Shell necklace reveal the strength and evolution of her practice.

Along with exquisite strings of single-coloured Maireener shells Greeno creates unique designs, such as the delicate composition of this particular necklace. Striking pattern and texture is achieved by alternating green Maireener, bi-valve white cockle, sharp black striped cat’s teeth and two-toned button shells. This combination reveals not only a selection of the shells long used by the local women, but also Greeno’s talent as a contemporary artist. She also incorporates shell necklaces with her fibre work and as parts of installations.

Greeno passes on the skills that she learnt from her mother and grandmother to her children and grandchildren, ensuring a continuing line of shell necklace makers. Her work is both traditional and contemporary, maintaining an unbroken cultural practice as well as exemplifying the creativity of Tasmanian Aboriginal women today.

Text © National Gallery of Australia, Canberra 2014
From: Collection highlights: National Gallery of Australia, National Gallery of Australia, Canberra, 2014