Sonja Carmichael is a Quandamooka woman from Moreton Island/Moorgumpin and Stradbroke Island/Minjerribah, Queensland. She is a descendant of the Ngugi people, one of three clans who are the traditional custodians Quandamooka, also known as Yoolooburrabee – people of the sand and sea. Sonja works specifically in the medium of fibre basketry and woven sculptures, reflecting her family’s cultural connections with the land and seas of Minjerribah (North Stradbroke Island).
Weaving has become central to Sonja’s deep-rooted connectedness to Country, and she draws inspiration from the many stories connected to Quandamooka traditional woven bags. In her practice, she also explores contemporary materials and techniques, incorporating lost and discarded items that wash up on Minjerribah’s shoreline – particularly ‘ghostnets’ and fishing lines – which she unravels and integrates into new forms. These works directly respond to concerns about the preservation of the natural environment by the transformation of discarded materials into functional and contemporary artworks.
Sonja is an active member of her community, sharing her weaving skills and passing on her knowledge.
As well as presenting practical and philosophical aspects of her work, she has exhibited in group exhibitions, including Woven (2014), BCM Crucible Gallery, Artisan, Brisbane; Connections to the waters of Minjerribah (2015), Redland Art Gallery, Cleveland; and Gathering Strands (2016), Redland Art Gallery, Cleveland.