Hang Us Out To Dry

Kait James

Exhibition Visual Art Textile

Wadawurrung artist Kait James repurposes racist souvenir tea towels to create a powerful statement of Indigenous resilience and self-determination.

Hang Us Out To Dry lays bare the problematic nature of nostalgic Australiana; an essentially white construct that propagates myths of mateship and egalitarianism, built on damaging and reductivist stereotypes of the other. At the same time, James confronts histories of racialised domesticity and class systems, injustice, massacre and forced assimilation. Utilising reworked 1970s-era Aboriginal Calendar Tea Towels, James' potent work at once protests the co-opting and betrayal of her people, and proclaims their resilience and agency.

Fittingly installed in the home's kitchen, Hang Us Out To Dry was originally made for the artist’s 2021 solo exhibition of the same name at the Art Gallery of Ballarat. The tea towels, which proliferated as Australian souvenirs between the 1960s and the 1980s, tokenise and stereotype Indigenous peoples and cultures. Reworking the tea towels with hand-stitching techniques, James subverts these representations with the addition of familiar pop-cultural references and imagery relating to Indigenous issues and identity—many of which draw from the tea towel’s calendar year, yet have relevance in the present day.

James' work is politically charged, navigating the injustices faced by Indigenous people and communities with tenacity, optimism and humour. Ultimately, Hang Us Out To Dry resonates with hope and a sense of self-determination.

Artist

Kait James

Kait James


Kait James is an award-winning Wadawurrung artist from Naarm/Melbourne. James returned to her practice in 2018 through her love of culture and has held solo exhibitions at Neon Parc (2022), Art Gallery of Ballarat (2021), Geelong Gallery (2021) and Koorie Heritage Trust (2019). In 2019, James was the winner of Craft Victoria’s Emerging Artist Award and the Koori Art Show’s Reconciliation award. Her work is held in many public and private collections including the National Gallery of Victoria.