‘Inspirational’ art teacher, craftswoman farewelled from Alice Springs


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An "inspirational" craftswoman and well-known Red Centre artist has been farewelled to Western Australia, after spending three decades passing on her skills in the NT.

Philomena Hali is one of the founders of the Sustainable Couture fashion show in Alice Springs, and has been a key figure in the town's arts and crafts scene for years.

But she and her husband have decided to move interstate, with the legions of women and men she has taught at the not-for-profit group Central Craft paying tribute to her generosity and ability.

"I feel reality hasn't actually struck yet," Hali said.

"I really hope people keep developing what they've learnt … and that's where my passion lies — actually passing on that knowledge, it's not mine to keep."

Much of Ms Hali's work has been focused on textiles and fabric, and many friends and former students turned out to a farewell event on Saturday wearing clothing she had designed or repurposed.

A woman sitting in a chair wearing an elaborate flowing red headpiece.

"She has taught us all to do shibori [a Japanese dyeing technique], to do indigo work, to rust fabric, to stitch and use methods of embroidery from all over the world, to make unusual clothing, to felt," Central Craft member Jude Mapleson said.

"I learnt to felt from her — not just wet felting, dry felting, needle felting as well.

"She's someone who hasn't been to art college, she's someone who just has a gift for very, very fine and beautiful work. She's an inspiration."

A collector and recycler of fabric, Hali said the wearable art and Sustainable Couture fashion events she had helped to found would continue to run with her input.

She will be joining the rest of her family in Western Australia, but there is a lot to do before she can even begin to think about leaving.

"I've got about six exhibitions … throughout in Australia, and one in Japan and one in Korea before June this year," she said.

"So even before leaving town I am snowed under with work that I keep taking on."

A portrait-style shot of Fran Woods and Jude Mapleson inside the Central Craft building.

Ms Mapleson said her departure would leave a big gap in the Central Australian crafts community.

"She's huge, and she's also worked with all ability groups across town, and everybody knows her because of that," she said.

"She's going to leave a pretty big hole."

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