Deborah Wurrkidj screen printing her sister’s Birlmu (Barramundi) design. Photo: Ingrid Johanson

Babbarra Designs is Babbarra Women Centre’s internationally renowned textile studio based in Maningrida. It is a site of contemporary cultural expression abundant with highly collectible textile works and emerging talent. Our printing studio provides women with space to work across multiple techniques of textile design including drawing, lino block printing and screen printing.

Screen-printing involves large silkscreens up to 140cm long. There are often multiple screens per design. We use water based fabric ink and a squeegee as we move across our nine-metre table. We need at least two women in order to make each print run and with multiple screens, one table-length of fabric can often take a whole day. Our screen print designs have been developed of many years, during workshops in Maningrida and Darwin.

Lino cut printing uses hand-carved tiles of linoleum, which we chisel at the studio  This block style of printing involves rolling the tiles with ink and pressing them by hand onto fabric. We often use three or four layers of colour in our designs.

After the printing is finished and the fabrics are touch-dry, we bake them in an industrial oven for almost two hours. This ensures the ink is set and our fabrics can be washed in a cold machine cycle. Silk and delicate fabrics however,  should be hand rinsed in cold water only.

Our designs tell the ancestral stories of west Arnhem Land cultures and country.