By Melissa Keogh
Angaston artist Marnie Gilder knows there is more to the Barossa Valley than its reputation for being one of the world’s greatest wine regions.
The abstract artist has teamed up with the Australian Wool Network (AWN) to launch Only Merino Barossa, a pair of fine merino wool blankets showcasing the Barossa’s wool producers.
While the Barossa Valley is predominantly known as a wine producing region, it is also home to a strong network of livestock farming families, including woolgrowers.
One of them is local wool farmer Jan Angus of Hutton Vale Farm, who Marnie says had the idea to create the collection of soft merino wool throws to showcase the material’s significance to the region.
Each throw, knitted in Australia from 100% pure merino wool, has a swing tag that customers can scan with their mobile phone to view videos of the Barossa, its woolgrowers and the sheep that contributed to the collection.
Marnie says the Only Merino Barossa Collection was inspired by Barossa’s landscapes, including rolling vineyards, paddocks and the view from the Mengler’s Hill lookout.
“I feel that my collaboration with Merino & Co (AWN’s knitwear and lifestyle brand) is a great fit for me,” she says.
“I am astutely aware that merino wool is experiencing an unprecedented global revival.
“As a passionate South Australian who loves my life in the Barossa and respects Australia’s agricultural community, I am thrilled to be the designer of Only Merino Barossa.”
Marnie grew up in the Barossa, but moved to Victoria more than a decade ago after marrying fifth-generation wool grower, Robert Gilder from Gippsland.
The pair and their young family decided to sell the farm three years ago and move to Marnie’s homeland in the Barossa.
Rob is now involved in the local viticulture industry, while Marnie is dedicated to her abstract art creations.
She says it’s important for consumers to appreciate where their wool comes from.
“There is a lot of romance in the industry, working on the land is a big deal for families and it’s hard to leave,” Marnie says.
“We need to support our farms and our people on the land and keep as much manufacturing and design in Australia and SA as possible.”
AWN’s Cynthia Jarratt says more consumers are wanting to know the origin of the fibre used to make their clothing.
“This striking, contemporary collection demonstrates our ‘farm to fashion’ or ‘bale to retail’ approach which allows customers to know where the wool is coming from while showcasing some of Australia’s most stunning destinations,” she adds.
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