Denmark Yoga Centre opens space to community to handmake recycled rugs with the aim of healing country

Isabel VieiraNarrogin Observer
Reclaim the Void creative director Vivienne Robertson and cultural custodian Kado Muir in Lenora.
Camera IconReclaim the Void creative director Vivienne Robertson and cultural custodian Kado Muir in Lenora. Credit: Nic Duncan

The Denmark Yoga Centre is the latest group to join the movement of people across WA who are hand-making circular rugs in an effort to help heal country impacted by mining.

The project, titled Reclaim the Void, was an idea cultivated by Ngalia elders from Lenora in the northern Goldfields and Denmark’s Vivienne Robertson.

The idea behind the project is to symbolically “seal” a degraded mining pit with a large tapestry made of about 5000 handmade rugs sewn into a pattern that depicts an Indigenous story of country.

Nine years ago, Ms Roberston was invited by cultural custodian Kado Muri to meet with the Ngalia elders in Lenora to discuss art projects.

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Rugs on country in Lenora
Camera IconRugs on country in Lenora Credit: Supplied/Vivienne Robertson/Vivienne Robertson

“We were talking about various things but I got this sense that there was something else here, so I asked the question ‘what is your deepest pain?’,” she said.

“One of the aunties responded, ‘it’s all those gaping mining holes left all over our country’.

“It was quite an incredible moment because the whole room felt quiet and there was this sense of gravitas

“I had this vision of one of those holes being covered with a pattern hat told the story of country and after much consideration one of the aunties said ‘yes, let’s do that’.”

The project has gained momentum in the past year and has since inspired cultural camps, workshops and school activities where people are encouraged to hand-weave the rugs out of discarded fabric.

Reclaim the Void rugs
Camera IconReclaim the Void rugs Credit: Supplied/Vivienne Robertson/Vivienne Robertson

The Denmark Yoga Centre has jumped on board the movement and are holding rug-making workshops fortnightly on Sundays at 3.30pm.

Co-owner Sonia Dezius said anyone was welcome to join the workshops.

“I went up to the camp last year because I have a connection to Vivienne and the country up there,” she said.

“The centre is another community space in Denmark and I enjoy having like-minded projects or workshops happening there that’s not just yoga.

“It was an opportunity to offer our space and I have a personal connection to the project already.”

Ms Dezius said participants were encouraged to bring their old bed sheets or fabrics to hand-weave into recycled rugs that will be contributed to the project.

More than 15 schools are involved with the project, including classes at Denmark Senior High School.

“I think it touches an aspect in people who know we have taken too much from the earth, and through mining we have taken too many resources,” Ms Robertson said.

“We are all a part of that and it’s a shared responsibility.

“It also touches people who feel they have caused pain to country and pain to custodians of country, they might not know how to give back but this is one way they can do that.”

Once the project is complete, the WA Museum will showcase an exhibition of the body of work at WA Museum Boola Bardip and the Museum of the Goldfields in late 2023 or early 2024

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