Published on 02 November 2019
Something unique and very special has appeared in the main street of Bridgewater on Loddon: the Secret Platypus Gallery is a treasure trove for unique women’s art and craft promoting Indigenous culture. The shop and gallery was officially opened in September 2019 with a Grand Opening and Welcome to Country by Dja Dja Wurrung.
The Secret Platypus specialises in wearable art such as clothing and bags which feature hand-screen prints and lino prints made by women artists from Bridgewater and Aboriginal women artists from Babbarra Women’s Centre, Injalak Arts and Tiwi Island, Northern Territory.
For owner, Linda Watson this shop is a dream come true and is the culmination of her passion developed over a lifetime of creativity.
“My dream for a very long time has been to own my own store in a little town and live on site,” Linda said. “With my partner Brendan, we had the chance to buy a little old house with a shopfront in Bridgewater, my favourite camping and swimming spot for over 40 years.”
Linda spent her early years on the family farm near Dingee and started making her own clothes and toys after moving to Bendigo at the age of six. With seven sisters to sew for, her creations were in great demand. By the age of ten, she had taught herself to make some cool clothes for her sisters.
While at secondary school, Linda learnt pattern-making and tailoring and spent the next two decades making beautiful wedding dresses. Later she gained valuable experience designing and making prototypes for a small Queensland clothing label.
Living in Darwin and working in Community Services, Linda started her own market stall with all her own designs. For the next twelve years, she built strong relationships with local Indigenous women and developed her passion for human rights, Aboriginal art, culture and Country. These connections with Darwin and remote communities continue here in Victoria and are now strengthened with connections on Dja Dja Warrung Country.
“I am very happy to have such a warm welcome from the whole community as my new label, Secret Platypus comes to life.” Linda said.
The gallery’s name is a tribute to the very special and personal love that Linda has of the platypus. Over the past few years while dreaming about and planning her move to Bridgewater, her new gallery and working on her platypus artwork that is screen printed on some of her creations, Linda had many encounters with the ‘secret platypus’ which seemed to be watching over her.
Secret Platypus incorporates Linda’s own designs and artworks. She creates the distinctive wearable art on site with hand-dyed natural fibre fabrics such as silk, cotton, linen, hemp and some combinations of these.
Linda is also working closely with her sister Cindy, whose Sister7 Gallery in Darwin specialises in women’s Aboriginal art. Artworks from the Sister7 Gallery women artists are available in store at Bridgewater. Artworks and crafts by local women artists are also in store, with more artists joining the collection and expanding the variety as the gallery grows.
In October, Babbarra Women’s Centre artists went to Paris with an exhibition of their fabrics and a collection of beautiful outfits made by Linda at Secret Platypus.
Secret Platypus’ Facebook page has new creations and introduces new artists as they arrive. The website is live with online sales and beautiful photographs of the products.