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Down The Track - Elbow Workshop

Each year, Elbow Workshop releases a new summer collection inspired by the special, often complex, place of Mparntwe/Alice Springs. This year, there’s heart and critical awareness all wrapped up in a few elegant and playful pieces.

By Zoya Godoroja-Prieckaerts

Elbow Workshop is made up of two halves – shoe-maker and leather-worker, James B Young, and independent designer, Elliat Rich. Together, they create a space and product range to reflects their experience of being in Central Australia and living on Arrernte Country.

The combination is stellar and goes way back. Their history includes huge installations at the National Gallery of Victoria, collaborations with local First Nations artists, wild projects involving virtual reality and stone masonry – the impressive list goes on.

For usable, long-lasting products that are a joy to use, the duo’s 2020 collection is where it’s at. Ever used camel soap? It’s silky smooth with a wholesome smell of cedar, produced old school from camel tallow and the highest quality ingredients, all handmade in their studio.

It’s been four years since launching their annual tea towel and this year’s edition is visual-communication genius. They’re looking at the Mereenie Aquifer – the main water supply for the region. Through signs and symbols reflective of bathtubs, troopies, time and more, they are trying to paint a picture of what is going on with our water.

“To understand its preciousness, that it’s irreplaceable”, explains Rich.

“Through policy and use, we need to be thinking long-term, using it responsibly and respectfully.”

She adds that the local town basin needs even more urgent attention, explaining that the source we use daily requires the Todd River – normally dry 95% of the year – to flow full for six months straight to see it replenished.

Although a humble dishcloth, this beautifully designed tea towel shows us that these, and all water sources around the Territory, must be protected at all costs.

As with all their products, the tea towel is high quality and thoughtfully made for the user. The two-colour print on organic cotton includes an explanation so you can understand each curious symbol and share these insights with others.

“We’re trying to inspire conversations that add to the really good work and thinking that’s been done around water use.”

If you want beauty, small-batch, local and inspiring, Elbow Workshop is the place to find it.


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