It's hard to put into words what a special experience stringing is. I go off into my own world when I'm stringing. When you finish a necklace, you just get such a special feeling. To learn from the elders who are sharing knowledge with me that I don't have, that is pretty key to it as well. The elders won't tell you exactly where to go to find shells. You might go out shelling and not get anything. It’s nice to know I’m playing a part in helping to keep the cultural knowledge of my ancestors alive, while playing a role in working with our traditions in a contemporary sense.
Bec Woolley, 2023
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.
Bec is an emerging aboriginal artist and represents the next generation of palawa stringers working closely with senior stringers to build her knowledge and skills. Bec is a descendant of well-known Tasmanian Aboriginal woman Fanny Cochrane Smith, an influential matriarch who was born in 1834, and passed on a rich treasury of cultural knowledge, including fishing and hunting skills. bush tucker and bush medicines, basket-making and necklace- stringing. One of the highlights of Bec’s career was seeing one of her necklaces gifted to Federal Minister for Indigenous Affairs, Hon Linda Burney MP.