Aunti Corrie Fullard is a respected elder of the Tasmanian Aboriginal community. Corrie Fullard was born on Flinders Island in 1931, in the Furneaux Islands group, off the northeast coast of Tasmania. Her mother, father and grandparents were also born on the Bass Strait Islands. The tradition of shell stringing was passed down through many generations of her family and hence, Corrie has passed these skills on to her daughter Jeanette James, born in 1952.
The art of shell stringing is a valued Palawa cultural tradition that has remained intact and continued without interruption since before white settlement; it is a tradition that is many thousands of years old. Traditionally, necklaces were made as an adornment for ceremonies and as objects to be traded with other tribes and bands of people for such things as ochre pigment and stone tools.
The Aboriginal community has always highly valued the mariner shell. The green mariner species is harder to locate and collect and therefore prized over the more commonly found blue mariner shell. A necklace of single species green mariner shells of the traditional length (approximately 182cm), is the most valued of all necklaces. Collecting enough shells to make such a necklace, may take as long as three years.
There are three generations of shell stringers working today. But within the Palawa peoples, two women elders are regarded as senior custodians of the stringing tradition. They are Corrie Fullard (who has the passed the skills to her daughter Jeanette James) and Dulcie Greeno (and daughter Betty Grace and daughter in-law Lola (Sainty) Greeno).