How Regina Pilawuk Wilson’s Syaw Painting Preserve Lost Knowledge

Detail of Regina Pilawuk Wilson’s “Syaw (Fishnet)”

The patterns in this painting mimic the stitch and weave of the syaw, large cylindrical fishnets made from the pinbin (bush vine). With the imposition of mission life, knowledge of how to make the nets vanished. Regina Pilawuk Wilson sought to revive the lost art in 2014 when she traveled to the distant outstation of Yilan to learn from Freda Wyartja and sisters Lily and Bonnie Roy. In turn, Wilson has taught the stitch to younger generations in primary schools. Her paintings are similarly a conscious attempt to revitalize lost traditions, showing that persistence and change coexist in Ngan’gikurrungurr culture.

This work is on view in Marking the Infinite: Contemporary Women Artists from Aboriginal Australia through September 9, 2018.

Take Your Sketchbook

Milton Avery, Shells and Fishermen, 1941, Oil on canvas 24 x 36 1/8 in.; 60.96 x 91.7575 cm. Acquired 1943. The Phillips Collection, Washington DC

Milton Avery gathered lots of ideas for his paintings during summer travels chiefly in New England, but also in California, Mexico, and Europe, sketching them and then bringing them back for work in the studio. So when you’re packing for that Memorial Day getaway, be sure to throw in your sketchbook and a few pencils.

This work is currently on view in the Made in the USA exhibition.