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Contemporary art

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander art

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Water Carriers



Vicki West


1960 -

Language group

Trawlwoolway, Launceston/Tasmania


In the stories of history it is often told that no Tasmanian Aboriginal people remain. It is said that Trucaninny and Woureddy were the last of the Aboriginal people. While it is true that a great number of Aboriginal people passed away on the colonial frontier, a strong and diverse Aboriginal community remains in Tasmania.

The sculptural works of Vicki West are testament to the tenacity of this community and the strength of their cultural inheritance. The formation of kelp into vessel forms is something that is unique to Tasmania. West first learnt these skills as a cultural workshop with elders and other members of the Aboriginal community and is now one of the most recognised artists working with this technique.

West’s 'Water Carriers' 2011 are made with bull kelp collected at specific locations on Tasmania’s east coast. To preserve the natural environment West will only use kelp that has been washed up onto the beach. She then moulds the kelp into the forms that reflect those made by her ancestors. As the kelp dries the translucency of the material is revealed.


Place where the work was made

Launceston Tasmania Australia



Media category


Materials used

bull kelp, tea tree and river reed


dimensions variable :

a - water carrier, 24 x 12 x 8.2 cm

b - water carrier, 24.4 x 12.1 x 9.5 cm

c - water carrier, 24 x 18 x 8.5 cm

Signature & date

Not signed. Not dated.


Purchased with funds provided by the Aboriginal Collection Benefactors Group 2012


Not on display

Accession number


Artist information

Vicki West

Works in the collection


Shown in 1 exhibition

Exhibition history