national treasure lola greeno — 2023 don macfarlane prize

Lola Greeno is recognised as a national treasure. Now this proud pakana woman from truwana (Cape Barren Island) has received high honour for her prized shell necklaces and enormous cultural contribution.

For Tasmania’s First Nations People, the importance of shell necklace making cannot be over-emphasised. Passed down through generations of women it is the oldest continual cultural practice, and Lola has devoted her life to keeping it alive. Acclaimed for her maireener shell necklaces glowing in iridescent blues and greens, Lola’s “earliest memories are going to the beach with mum to collect shells, and then hearing all the stories as we made necklaces with our elders. It is a tradition I have passed down to my daughters and granddaughters.”

With her art praised as ‘threading together stories and knowledge that can be traced back thousands of years,’ Lola is the fitting recipient of this year’s $50,000 Don Macfarlane Prize which is awarded in Melbourne to an outstanding senior Australian artist. “The award is for artists still practicing, mentoring, and using their leadership skills, and one of my friends cheekily said ‘Lola that sounds like it was written for you!’”

Awards aside, there is no stopping this 77-year-old national treasure in her on-going quest to preserve an important cultural practice. “I have just finished a workshop with 18 young women, and I am thrilled that shell necklace making is being embraced by the younger generations. It is definitely going through a resurgence.”