What are they?
Among Equals are a range of stunning Bilum bags woven by indigenous women in the highlands of Papua New Guinea. They are made from either natural fibres or woollen/acryllic yarn. The Founder of Among Equals, Caroline Sherman, fell in love with the gorgeous colours and designs of Bilum bags at an exhibition in Sydney and was inspired to bring these amazing textiles to the international marketplace.
Among Equals is a social enterprise. The bags provide a much-needed source of income for the weavers, who are often the primary earners in their communities. This has allowed girls in the villages to attend school for the first time, as prior to this they could only afford to send the boys. Income from the bags also helps to pay for healthcare and other essentials. Caroline plans to use a portion of the profits generated to build a community space for the weavers to gather and practice their craft, so that Bilum remains both a sustainable source of income and a viable art form for future generations.
How do they look?
Not only are Bilum bags exceptionally beautiful, they are also incredibly durable because of the way the materials are prepared before weaving. There are three different ranges, each made in a different area of PNG. Bags from the Sepik range are made from natural fibres and have a more neutral, earthy look, while the Highlands and Omie ranges are made from yarn and come in a variety of vibrant colours. We love them all!
Where to Buy?
The official launch of Among Equals Bilum bags will take place next Wednesday 24th August at the Sherman Contemporary Art Foundation (SCAF) in Sydney. See here for details. This will be followed by a Bilum Artisan’s talk, also at SCAF on Saturday 27th August. Please get along if you can.