Design Tasmania | Waverley Mills 150 Year Exhibition

Tasmania’s first commercial woollen factory will celebrate 150 years of weaving quality textiles in an exhibition at Launceston’s Design Tasmania. Waverley Mills was founded in 1874 on the banks of Distillery Creek, and is the last remaining manufacturing facility of its kind in Australia. 

Its rich history includes weaving products for the Australian Army, Qantas, Melbourne Airport and other iconic Australian businesses, once producing 80 percent of the blanket market in the country. 

Design Tasmania’s Waverley 150+ exhibition will honour this legacy in an evolving exhibition that includes an invitation for the public to share their memories of the mill with stories, photographs and vintage blankets and apparel. These contributions, along with treasures acquired from around the country, will establish a Waverley Mills Design Archive, which will be gathered throughout the duration of the exhibition. 

Throughout the exhibition duration, Waverley 150+ will also introduce Tasmanian artists and designers into the weaving process for the first time as an intrinsic part of Waverley Mills’ future. Featured artists include: 

  • Tricky Walsh, who will bring their experimental approach to a non-traditional, machine-woven fashion fabric. They have previously been commissioned to create works for galleries and museums in the United States, Italy, France and China, and exhibited extensively throughout Tasmania, Australia and overseas. 
  • Sharon O’Donnell, a textile artist who weaves threads spun from her own flock of sheep into her creations, to communicate narratives of sustainability and interconnectedness with nature. Throughout the exhibition, she will use raw wool materials from local sheep farms, as well as off-cuts, mill ends and recyclable fibers from Waverley Mills’ production processes. Sharon will be hand-weaving a rug at Design Tasmania each Saturday afternoon during the exhibition, with the public invited to assist. 
  • Lillian Wheatley, a saltwater (muka luna) woman from the Trawlwoolway nation in northeast Tasmania, whose work is inspired by her Country and life growing up on an island in the Bass Strait. As a Waverley 150+ featured artist, Lillian will apply ancient practices to hand-weave woollen yarn together with cultural fibers. 

Design Tasmania Artistic Director Michelle Boyde said that Waverley 150+ was an important opportunity to celebrate the history of a community icon, while also looking towards its future. 

“Waverley Mills has been a fixture of our community for a century and a half, from producing classic family apparel, to supplying blankets to Australian soldiers during World War 2 and manufacturing Tasmania’s first electric blanket in the 1960s,” she said. “We’re thrilled to collaborate with Waverley Mills to celebrate that legacy, while also engaging local contemporary artists and the public to take it into the next 150 years and beyond.” 



Waverley 150+ will run from 23 March – 26 May at Design Tasmania, on the corner of Brisbane and Tamar Streets in Launceston. 

To contribute a story, photograph or item, email [email protected] or send a message on Facebook

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