Established in the 1970s the Craft Council of Western Australia was formed to bring together people from across the craft disciplines of ceramics, jewellery and textiles. Consequently, from the 1970s to the 1990s WA experienced a growing interest in fibre and textiles and saw the establishment of many craft related interest groups. However, by the mid 1990s the Craft Council found itself struggling to service the growing needs of the medium tier specific disciplinary groups in the sector.  It became apparent that there was a demand for a not-for-profit organisation that could bring together people from a variety of backgrounds who shared a common interest in fibre and textiles.

In 1995 the Crafts Council held a general meeting to establish a state wide non-profit for fibre and textiles. It was attended by textile practitioners, representatives of educational institutions, textile artists, members of fibre and textile interest groups with a particular focus with hand and machine embroiderers, quilters, felt and papermakers, as well as textile suppliers, and gallery owners. An interim committee was appointed to formulate a draft constitution. The association was to provide a neutral space and focal point for the diverse nature of textile practice within WA. Common interests and sharing of positive experiences would be of benefit to those participating in both metropolitan and regional areas. A draft constitution was written relating to the purpose and direction of the association. At a general meeting in September 1995 the interim committee released the mission statement.


To further the practice of fibre and textiles in Western Australia through increasing network opportunities and professional representation both nationally and internationally.

The Western Australian Fibre & Textile Association (WAFTA) was established on the premise that it must embrace all levels of practice and acknowledge the significant role that each individual and specialised groups have in building and supporting fibre and textile practice in WA.

The objectives of the association are:

  • To increase the understanding and appreciation of fibre and textiles through education, exhibitions, and national and international exchange
  • To encourage and provide a means for free exchange of ideas and information between those concerned with textiles at all levels in Western Australia, nationally and internationally
  • To encourage the highest standards of design and craftsmanship in the fibre and textile arts
  • To facilitate and encourage the transition from student to practitioner within the fibre and textile field
  • To encourage balanced and critical evaluation of and writing about fibre and textiles

In November 1995 a revised version of the constitution was accepted, and the association proceeded with incorporation. These early meetings were held at the Craft Council and by 1996, with association registration completed in February, the membership had grown to 140.

The WAFTA program featured stimulating guest speakers and provided a welcome opportunity for members to meet, share ideas and get to know each other. A number of studio visits were programmed each year, enabling members to view the range of working practices of other fibre and textile practitioners and be inspired by their passion and production.

Successive leaders have shared their enthusiasm and vision for the future of WAFTA. Activities and events have included organised excursions to studios, gallery and regional area visits, professional development and technique workshops, Open Days, and traders’ and suppliers’ days as well as annual exhibitions.

In recent years WAFTA has seen a significant increase in member participation. The current membership includes art educators, professional textile artists with formal art training, recent textile graduates, as well as makers who have developed their skills and expertise over many years of working with fibre and textiles. The passion, enthusiasm, and talent of the growing membership reflects the interest in and appreciation of fibre and textiles in the community.

Photography credits:

Hanging by a Thread (2020) Holmes á Court Gallery, photography by Dan McCabe

Hanging by a Thread (2020) Holmes á Court Gallery, photography by Dan McCabe

Hanging by a Thread (2020) Holmes á Court Gallery, photography by Dan McCabe

Altered States (2017) Perth Town Hall,