We were very excited to be part of the Melbourne Art Fair this year (17 – 22 of Feb) showcasing Helen Ganalmirriwuy Garrawurra’s exhibition, Djirrididi (Forest kingfisher) – Garrawurra body paint designs .
Helen’s work is, in many ways, language. Colours and form are representative of self, of lineage, of ritual. In each of Helen’s mindirr – woven objects – members of her family and their traditions are told, their stories communicated through the steady dialect of skill. The colours in Helen’s practice have great significance. These works are created through methods of dying – both traditional and contemporary – with materials sourced from the land. Each hue woven into the mindirr has a purpose: they represent the clans of Helen’s ancestors, the traditional rituals of Helen’s people, and Helen herself.
Helen Ganalmirriwuy Garrawurra is a proud Ḻiyagawumirr Garrawurra woman. Ganalmirriwuy grew up on her mother’s Country at Laŋarra (also known as Howard Island). Her father’s Country, Gärriyak, is on the mainland, south of Galiwin’ku and Laŋarra. Today Ganalmirriwuy lives and works at Milingimbi and Laŋarra. As a master weaver and painter she is known for her limited palette inspired by Ḻiyagawumirr Garrawurra ceremonial body paint designs.
In the words of the artist; “I am a Ḻiyagawumirr Garrawurra woman. And my maḏayin‘ are the two Djan’kawu. You know, the Two Sisters – the ancestral beings. They gave miku (red), watharr (white) and buthalak (yellow) ochre colours for us to paint with. We use them for the Ŋärra law ceremony, which is a cleansing ceremony.”
Ganalmirriwuy paints her clan designs onto ṉäku, lorrkun ga miṉḏirr (bark, hollow logs and woven dilly bags) as well as paper and board. The minimalist aesthetic that is inherent to her Ḻiyagawumirr Garrawurra clan designs also informs the colour fields and geometric patterns explored in her weavings. Ganalmirriwuy’s eldest sister, Margaret Rarru, is attributed with refining the technique for dying fibres deep black using local plant materials. Rarru shares this knowledge with Ganalmirriwuy who has also become renowned for her monochrome woven artworks.
Thank you to the many people, in Milingimbi and Melbourne, that worked together to make this exhibition possible.
We were very proud to exhibit along side the other four Art Centres participating in the Indigenous Art Centre Program
Wanapati Yunupiŋu from Buku-Larrŋgay Mulka Centre (Yirrkala) @bukuartnow
Johnathon “World Peace” Bush from Jilamara Arts & Crafts Association (Milikapiti) @jilamaraartsandcrafts
Patsy Mudgedell from Warlayirti Artists (Balgo) @warlayirti_artists
Benjamin Ward from Waringarri Aboriginal Arts (Kununurra) @waringarri_arts
- Helen Ganalmirriwuy’s Garrawurra Lorrkun (memorial poles with Garrawurra ceremonial body paint designs)
- Mol Miṉḏirr (black conical basket) 2020
- Mol Mät, pandanus and bush dye 70cm x 70cm
- Garrawurra ceremonial body paint design, works of board 2021
The Melbourne Art Fair was held at the Melbourne Convention & Exhibition on the 17th to 22nd Feb 2022.
Thank you to Melbourne Art Fair Foundation, the Indigenous Visual Art Industry Support Program, the Restart Invest to Sustain and Expand (RISE) fund, and everyone who came together to support the program.