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Rugged Up in the Red Centre

You walk into this gallery and it’s like no other exhibition opening you’ve been to. People are touching the art, grabbing it, wearing it on their heads. They’re high from overstimulation – colours everywhere, crazy shapes, textures soft, wiry and mottled.

By Zoya Godoroja-Prieckaerts

It’s a frenzy and everyone wants a piece of the action. If you’ve ever been to the Alice Springs Beanie Festival, you know exactly what we’re on about.

This year, the festival celebrates 26 years. What an effort. Massive and amazing. Dedicated beanie lovers have been volunteering over the years to make this beautiful, community loving – and community loved – event continue to thrive all these years.

The 2022 theme is Stitching Hearts and oh, how they will mend any soul who walks into Beanie Central. With 7000 beanies on display, you’re sure to find at least one warm, cosy treasure to fit your winter-frosted crown. But heads up – there’s likely someone else also eyeing off your pick, so you’ve got to get in quick to nab your numero uno beanie. But it’s not all just trying on and buying other people’s handmade beauties. There’s something for everyone.

On opening night, peruse the delicious smelling food trucks, all lined up outside along the gallery patio. Enjoy music, loud and cheerful to match the vibe inside. Find young kids running around, completely giddy.

Admire gorgeous women adorned in last year’s beanie purchase, and the blokes, dressed dashingly with a splash of absurdity, showing off their outrageous purchase from years gone by. Spy the newbies to town, mouths gaping open, smiling in shock at more of the riches this town brings.

For those of you that like to make, there’s a long list of workshops to sign up to including felting, weaving, eco dying, the Japanese mending technique boro, and more. There are even children’s workshops for the littlies. See, there really is something for everyone!

If you’ve never been to the festival, please, treat yourself. You’ll crack at least one – if not 300 – smiles during opening night. And if you’re not into crowds, then enjoy a little TLC with a workshop, where women from out bush teach you their tricks with laughs and stories aplenty, as you quietly stitch away, warm cup of tea ready for your break.

It’s the festival Mparntwe wants and needs halfway through a busy year – wholesome, nurturing and thrilling all at once.

Alice Springs Beannie Festival

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