Tuesday, June 11, 2019 to Wednesday, June 12, 2019 Start time: 10:00 am


Venue: Rich Mix


A two-day workshop exploring Indigenous Australian mourning rituals, through the making of Kopi mourning caps.  

The ritual and ceremony of mourning can be both public and private expressions of loss, sadness and reflection. With the loss of another, we celebrate the life they lived and the experiences that we shared.

Mourning death is an important ritual and ceremony, with all cultures having ways of expressing and showing loss. For some Indigenous Australian nations, Kopi caps were an important part of mourning the death of a close family member or senior tribal person. How long the caps were worn was dependant on the relationship to the deceased. There are records of women wearing kopi’s from two weeks to six months and of men wearing them on the death of a senior female. Often blood letting was an important part of this mourning process, and is expressed in ‘Ritual and Ceremony’ through the ochre colour on the men’s kopis.

This practice has not occurred in South-Eastern Australia for many years, so with the help of Aboriginal men and women living and working in Victoria, Indigenous artist Maree Clarke has revived it. This revival is not only to educate about past practices, but also to allow the work to express Indigenous loss of land, language, and cultural practices. 

We and our mourning are part of Australian society today. Our culture and practice have changed over time, with many of us adopting other practices into our own. The white ochre represents the traditional mourning practice of our people. The black dress represents our adopted mourning practices of today.  The markings on our shirts express the scarring that we would have once carried. The sticks represent huts built for the deceased to be laid in and the red dirt represents the Country and home of the artist where this mourning practice is from. 

When the public mourning ends, Kopis were placed on the graves. Here the Kopis are placed on the ground at our feet. We want to stop mourning, but our faces show the continued sadness that our families and our communities continue to carry. Mourning involves sitting or crouched at the grave. We stand proud facing the sadness and pain we experience through the continued loss. 

Families and communities share stories of the deceased – how they lived and how the living will continue without them. We have shared our stories of loss, and how we continue to live, survive, fight, mourn and celebrate our people and culture.

Workshop for 20 people maximum over two days (10-5).  Tickets £40 for the two-day event.