INDIGENOUS fashion and design will be the focus of the Bendigo Art Gallery's premier exhibition for 2020.
Piinpi: Contemporary Indigenous Fashion will feature the works of First Nations artists and designers from both inner city and remote desert art centres.
Kanntju woman and First Nations Curator Shonae Hobson exclusively curated the exhibition for the gallery.
"It's a really important time and the fashion industry is growing," Ms Hobson said.
"There are a lot of artists and communities working in the fashion space and what we really wanted to do with this exhibition was really spotlight those artists and communities, and give them recognition.
"But also for the broader community, I think it enables an appreciation for Indigenous art and culture through fashion."
The works of Grace Lillian-Lee, Lyn-Al Young, Maree Clarke, Lisa Waaup x Verner, Hopevale Arts and others will be on show.
Ms Hobson said the word Piinpi, which comes from her great-grandmother's language, was an expression used in East Cape York to describe seasonal changes and regeneration of Country.
"Piinpi really encapsulates this idea of knowing the land and caring for the land," she said.
"That idea is very much reflected in most of the garments. So you have beautiful designs of bush food in some of the textile prints, but also that knowledge and traditional use of materials and natural plant dyes."
Bendigo Art Gallery director Jessica Bridgfoot said the exhibition was the first of its kind in Australia.
"It's a really unique Australian story for us to be able to tell," she said.
"We've got a fabulous history of delivering international fashion shows and this is an opportunity for us to tell an Australian story, a First Nations story, so we're really excited."
The exhibition, which is set to open at the gallery in July and run through to October, will feature garments and design objects from major public and private collections.
Ms Bridgfoot said the gallery would acquire key works featured in the collection to form the start of its Australian Fashion Collection.
"This is a big opportunity for us to start collecting fashion and build that aspect of our collection," Ms Bridgfoot said.
"We actively collect contemporary Australian art and just like in art, fashion designers and textile designers have had a long history of being able to tell social, political, and cultural stories through their fashion design.
"So we feel it's really timely for us to start building our collection in this space. We're going to kick it off with some major acquisitions through Piinpi."
Ms Bridgfoot said this exhibition would be the major draw card for the gallery for 2020.
"We have a big show planned over summer as well, which focuses on Australian art," she said. "Next year, we'll be kicking off with another international show."
Member for Bendigo East Jacinta Allan said the Piinpi exhibition would bring more people to the region.
"This is another fantastic example of the fantastic leadership shown by the Bendigo Art Gallery in putting forward cutting edge exhibitions that are also about telling local stories," Ms Allan said.
"In this instance, they are giving Indigenous communities, our Indigenous artists, an opportunity not just to showcase their talent, but also the opportunity to tell their story."
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