This week on Let’s Talk – Black Arts, Rachael catches up with the extraordinary Grace Lillian Lee. Grace is a proud Torres Strait Islander, a descendent of the Doolah family from Murray Island. Through collaborations with mainland Indigenous communities and their art centers, she has created a platform for cultural expression and celebration by way of fashion performances. Working directly with Indigenous communities inspired Grace to further her work by travelling to remote communities to encourage creative expression and mentor young people, as well as collaborate with artists and art centers. Her aim is to guide members towards developing their art into textiles and adornment in a contemporary way, while orchestrating the sharing of artistic culture between generations. This is instrumental in the preservation and celebrations of traditional techniques and creatives.

Along with Grace’s involvement with Indigenous communities she is also a practicing artist. She uses fashion and adornment to represent her own diverse cultural heritage. She has become known for her wearable interpretations of traditional Torres Strait Island weaving techniques that take the form of body sculptures and accessories. By bringing such techniques into the contexts of both art and fashion Grace has engaged a wide audience allowing her to develop a successful business based on woven accessories, celebrating and exploring her lineage. Grace’s creations have exhibited at The National Gallery of Victoria, the Jam Factory, Adelaide and Cairns Regional Gallery. Her work has been acquired by the South Australian Museum, National Gallery of Victoria, Cairns Regional Gallery, Australian Institute of Aboriginal Torres Strait Islander Studies and Kluge Ruhe Collection at the University of Virginia, and with current interest from National Gallery Australia.

In this rich and wide-ranging conversation, Rachael learns more about Grace’s creative life, what drives her work, and what’s changing in the Grace Lillian Lee universe in 2024.