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Connecting through fashion, visual arts and stories

The Re-Collections initiative by Delta Yarns fostered community connection in the Burdekin by sharing local stories through fashion, visual arts and writing.



The Burdekin, located in Northern Queensland, is home to many stories shaped by First Nations peoples; by South Sea Islander, Torres Strait Islander and European migration; and by the landscape and the unique experiences of the community.

Inspired by local vintage garment and accessory collections (1920s-90s) and a community-based photographic series, the Re-Collections project sought to capture, share and celebrate these stories through fashion, visual arts and writing.

Led by Delta Yarns in collaboration with local and established practitioners, the project featured a range of community workshops and events focused on bringing people together to yarn and create. 

Activities included:

  • Themed Yarn Sessions: Featuring local stories from past and present members of the community 
  • Workshops for writers and makers: Community members worked with prominent Queensland writers, fashion designers and artists to develop and craft their own family narratives
  • RE:Collections Up Front Space: Pop-up gallery and creators’ space in Ayr shopfronts showcased a community-based photographic series shot across the district and work by locals developed through various workshops

Local interest and participation in this multi-part community arts initiative surpassed all expectations. Events fostered engagement across a diverse cross-section of the community including members who do not usually engage in the arts, building community connection and pride. The project also drove cultural tourism in the Burdekin.



When and where

June to November 2022, Ayr, with participants also from Home Hill, Brandon, Clare and Giru.  


Key stats

  • 18 events
  • 18 artists and arts workers employed
  • 25 volunteers
  • Over 3,000 participants and attendees



$59,970 through Queensland Arts Showcase Program Round 4 which supports the delivery of vibrant and accessible arts and cultural experiences for Queensland as part of the $22.5 million Arts and Cultural Recovery Package

The project was also supported through Australian Government grants Cultural Accelerator Program,  Regional Arts Development Fund (Burdekin Shire Council) and donations from the local community.




Build a strong and sustainable sector

  • Opportunities for regional artists and workers: Re-Collections provided opportunities for local artists to participate in paid creative employment opportunities. Participants were also able to work with external professionals including - writers Dr Louise Martin-Chew and First Nations Elder Ngaire Jarro; multidisciplinary artist Lia Tabrah; and fashion creatives Lydia Pearson and Shilo Englebrecht. This experience further strengthened the local arts sector skills base and has led to discussion regarding future projects.
  • Strengthened local arts network: The project strengthened local networks bringing local artists and artworkers together. It is anticipated that these connections will lead to collaborations and future projects in the area.


Activate Queensland spaces and places

  • Activating vacant spaces: Using vacant shops and shop fronts to deliver key activities, Re-collections demonstrated ways to reimagine spaces, town centres, their usages and purposes. As a result, there is significantly more appetite from the local community to pursue other large scale cultural endeavours in the future.


Drive social change and strengthen communities

  • Built community connection: The initiative fostered conversation across the community and built intergenerational connections. There was high and repeat visitation to the activated shop spaces, and participation in workshops and projects by a diverse cross-section of the community. 

Most of the audience rarely, if ever, visit galleries and participate in contemporary arts events. It was rewarding to witness groups of farmers, elderly members of migrant communities, multigenerational family groups and teenage friends making special visits to experience the initiative, all feeling a sense of connection with the content and the stories being told. 

  • Building cultural tourism: Activated shop space and windows, writers’ workshop, yarn sessions, makers’ workshops and other related events attracted visitors to the Burdekin.


Share our stories and celebrate our storytellers

  • Captured and shared local stories: Through the Re-Collections project, the unique and diverse stories of the Burkedin community were shared and captured including First Nations stories and the impact of migration on the community and fashion. Delta Yarns noted that these are stories that are not often documented but have played an essential role in shaping the community. It provided a space for female, migrant and other marginal stories to be expressed and heard, enriching the understood historical narrative of the district. Examples of ‘yarns’ stories can be found on the Delta Yarns website.




Amazing. Just what a small town needs

From Brisbane stopped by to see it and love it all. 

Wish this could stay open for longer bring more people to the Burdekin. As well as giving young artists a chance to show case their talent on a larger platform

How good is this pop-up for encouraging Burdekin arts, artists and potential supporters and Mirka Mora’s connection to Ayr need amplifying

Very stunning to see an amazing exhibition of very talented artist/locations in the Burdekin


Learnings and reflections

Delta Yarns reflected on the importance of different types of sessions in attracting diverse audiences: 

When developing Re-Collections, we ensured that all elements of the project had relevance for the community. The display of the contemporary photographic series, taken across the local region, was a major drawcard and, due to extremely high word of mouth promotion, visitation was consistently high and diverse. As part of the writing and yarning workshops, we presented a series (6 separate events) of 'themed local yarning sessions'. Different sessions successfully attracted different local audiences. The very accessible themes of storytelling and fashion increased participation, which resulted in new audiences engaging in original cultural experiences.



Tips for others

In devising Re-Collections, Delta Yarns thought big. The project was an enormous undertaking and required a core working group to deliver the initiative. Core to the project was activating community involvement and promoting relevance. This involved articulating a vision, explaining significance, seeking out skills and by-in and requesting assistance from across the community.    


What next

In 2023 Delta Yarns has concentrated on mentoring several local artists who have developed and successfully delivered creative projects. We are looking at developing a series of creative activations for 2024. 


Find out more

Delta Yarns website