A ghost net is a plastic fishing net lost or discarded at sea from a fishing boat that continues to drift and ‘fish’ on its own entrapping and killing marine life. In many Northern Australian communities tonnes of ghost nets – the majority from South East Asia – wash up on beaches, causing pollution, damaging reefs and killing wildlife. The name has evolved from the net’s ‘ghostly’ ability to fish by itself.
Ghost net weaving on Groote Eylandt has developed since a seeding project initiated by Ghost Nets Australia where contemporary fibre artists Aly de Groot and Cecile Williams worked with the rangers, school and weavers to experiment and explore with creative ways to utilise this environmental threat. Ghost net weaving has since been incorporated into the creation of baskets, jewellery and sculptures by Anindilyakwa women in continuous changing ways. Since 2017, these creations have begun to incorporate re-purposed textiles, bush dyed cotton and silks, occasionally even the artist’s skirt!