Highly regarded Gunditjmara basket weaver and community elder who began weaving in her 60s and facilitated the regeneration of localised Victorian Indigenous weaving practices. Self-taught after observing mother and local Elders.
Connie Hart, Gunditjmara basket weaver, was born in 1917 in Little Dunmore, near Lake Condah Mission in South Western Victoria. Connie attended the mission school during her childhood, but was always attentive to the stories and practices of her mother and her elders while she was growing up. When she was sixteen she began to work as a maid and cook for properties in the western districts of Victoria, before she moved to Melbourne. During World War II she worked in a munitions factory, and in later years she worked as a wardsperson at St. Vincent’s Hospital, and in a shoe factory.
Connie only began basket weaving in 1983 at the age of 65. Having returned to Little Dunmore to care for her mother who had suffered a stroke, Connie recollected the baskets that her mother had made from Puung’ort grasses when Connie was a child. As she is quoted as saying in the book Living Aboriginal History of Victoria (in Jackomos & Fowell 1991, pg 74):
'No one taught me to make my baskets. My mum told me we were coming into the white man’s way of living. So she wouldn’t teach us. That is why we lost a lot of culture. But I tricked her and I watched those old people and I sneaked a stitch or two.’
Connie went on to craft a great variety of baskets, as well as eel traps and baby carriers. She passed on weaving methods to a number of members of her family, including Sandra Aitken , as well as many other Indigenous and non-Indigenous people through basket weaving workshops.
Connie Hart passed away in 1993 as a much loved and revered member of the Victorian Indigenous community.