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UNLEASHED - Artist Profile: Anita Wano-Sumner

UNLEASHED - Artist Profile: Anita Wano-Sumner

Anita Wano-Sumner

Yuwi Country (Mackay)


Aunty Anita Wano-Sumner (nee Ah Wang) was born and raised in Mackay. Her interest has always been in handcrafts whether it be crochet, or dressmaking/sewing and now as a weaver.
She uses weaving methods from her husband's heritage; the cultural art of Ngarrindjeri (Lakun) weaving with reeds and rushes taught to her by South Australia local elders (2012 – 2016). She travelled to many areas in South Australia with her two Ngarrindjeri mentors Phyllis Williams and Eileen McHughes where she observed other traditional styles of weaving from South Australia, Victoria, Northern Territory and Central Australia. She is using the Ngarrindjeri weaving cultural practice and through this, she is connecting with her Torres Strait Islander heritage. Her Torres Strait Islander cultural practices have survived and continue to be expressed through her weaving.
Big Waru is an intricately woven design, made from collected natural raffia and lomandra grass. The work pays homage to the sea turtle, a deeply respected and sacred totem representing wisdom for Aunty Anita's Torres Strait Islander family from Badu Island. The looping patterns evoke the webbing on a turtle's carapace, while circles woven from twined raffia represent the interconnected families and communities of the Torres Strait. Big Waru emerged from Aunty Anita's dedication to sustaining culture and building connections across generations through the cultural art of weaving.



Image credits:

Anita Wano-Sumner (2024), Big Waru (Turtle) My Totem, natural raffia. 97.5 x 105 x 4cm. Photography by Cherrie Hughes.