Eva Richardson is a Trawlwoolway kelp-work artist who has a "kelp water carrier" in the permanent collection of the National Gallery of Australia. Eva also works as a painter, drawer and installation artist and lives in Hobart, Tasmania.
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Eva Richardson, also known as Auntie Eva, was born in Moonah, Hobart, Tasmania on the 31st May 1936. She is of the Trawlwoolway people of Cape Portland – Ben Lomond area of North East Tasmania. Auntie Eva’s early childhood was spent in and around the Hobart area, which afforded her almost unlimited access to the natural resources provide by the sea. Her father was a proud Tasmanian Aboriginal who possessed a great deal of knowledge of the local bush and who was also a storyteller of note (a talent Auntie Eva herself is also gifted with). It was through her father that she began to learn the skills that she employs today as a visual artist.
Auntie Eva works with a variety of media including fibre, natural dyes, clays, kelp, fabrics and natural found objects to create water carriers, woven baskets and installations. She also works as a drawer putting to paper her initial design concepts of what will become woven baskets. Sometimes these drawn designs can lead to paintings in which Auntie Eva uses mud clay as she finds it “peaceful, spiritual and cultural to play with” (Tasmanian Government website, see 'Recognition’ below). In correspondence with the author in July 2008, Auntie Eva’s friend and colleague, Jennie Gorringe wrote of her kelp work that, this “cultural tradition has been reclaimed and developed by few Tasmanian Aboriginal fibre makers” and that the “translucent colours of Auntie Eva’s kelp baskets are beautiful and remain true to the richness of the great bull-kelp forests found around Tasmania’s coastline.” These baskets or water carriers are created from the fronds of the bull kelp and fashioned into a bowl/cup shape, skewered along the edges by two tea-tree skewers, which then have spun grass string attached to act as the handles of the carrier.
In a July 2008 conversation with the author, Auntie Eva stated she sees her work as a “hobby” because her art-making “comes from the heart and not the head”. Despite this, she has been working seriously as an artist since the early 1990s. In 1994 Auntie Eva attended Tasmania’s first 'Fibre Camp’ organised by Gorringe, where she met experienced fibre workers including Gwen Egg. Auntie Eva stresses that it was the sharing of Egg’s knowledge and skills at this camp that has lead to the reclamation of the Tasmanian fibre arts.
Auntie Eva’s determination to keep the Tasmanian fibre arts culture alive has led to local and national attention for her work. From 1995 to 1999 she exhibited her work in the Moonah Arts Centre’s annual NAIDOC exhibitions, organised and curated by Jennie Gorringe. She was included in the Lola Greeno curated 'Island to Island’ exhibition which was part of the 2000 Ten Days on the Island arts festival. Moonah Arts Centre again included her in their 2002 exhibition, 'Celebrating Our Elders’ and in the 2003 and 2005 women’s art competition, 'Material Girl’. Two of her paintings from the 'Material Girl’ exhibition, Reflecting on the Past, Present and Future and Our Family Tree, are featured on the Tasmanian Government website that celebrates the role of women in Tasmania. Along with Auntie Lennah Newson and Auntie Colleen Mundy, Auntie Eva exhibited in the July 2005 NAIDOC exhibition 'Twining Culture’ at the Moonah Arts Centre. This exhibition, curated by Jennie Gorringe, has since became important historically as it was the last exhibition these three women participated in together before Auntie Lennah Newson passed away. Nationally, Auntie Eva has been included in the exhibition 'Tactility’ in 2003 at the National Gallery of Australia in Canberra.
A passionate believer in the passing on of knowledge, Auntie Eva shares her skills with the young by working with the Aboriginal Education Speakers Program and has been the Elder-in-Residence at Claremont College. She has also worked as a storyteller in 2004 for the Jump Into School program organised by the Tasmanian Aboriginal Education Association. Not only is Auntie Eva an active member of her local community she is also a tireless worker for Aboriginal reconciliation. She is currently the co-chair, alongside Ms Yabbo Thompson, for Achieving Reconciliation Tasmania, which is the Tasmanian state reconciliation body.
Her work is held in many private collections in Australia, New Zealand and the United Kingdom as well as in the public collections of the National Gallery of Australia and the End-of-the-Trail Indian Museum – Tree of Mystery in Klamath, California, USA.
In 2008 Auntie Eva Richardson was still living and working in Hobart, Tasmania.