Elizabeth Rukarriwuy is a Liyagauwumirr-Garrawurra woman with a strong passion for weaving and making jewellery from harvested materials. Rukarriwuy is the daughter of renowned Liyagauwumirr-Garrawurra artist Mickey Durrng. She was born deaf, in Yolŋu society however this is a small obstacle as sign language is part of everyday life and used by all members of the community.
In 2006 Rukarriwuy’s father passed authority to his sisters, Rukarriwuy’s mukuls (aunts), to assume custodianship of the Liyagauwumirr Djirri-didi (ceremonial body paint designs). The Liyagauwumirr Djirri-didi has a restricted palette and geometric style. It represents the journey of the ancestral Djan’kawu sisters and is laden with concealed knowledge.
The Djan’kawu sisters gave miku (red), watharr (white) and buthjalak (yellow) ochre colours to the Garrawurra people for painting. They are used during Ŋarra (cleansing ceremony), performed when people die. The geometric designs represent Garrawurra totems including sacred Djanda (goanna), Nyoka (crab), Wanduma or Gudumurrku (fresh water cat fish), Bowarta (turkey), Ŋatili (black cockatoo) and the Worrudj (colourful parrot).
Rukarriwuy is one of many women who attend the art centre daily and contribute to its dynamic environment centred on the harvest of materials, making of artworks and attention to Yolŋu governance. She watches and learns from her mukuls, including senior artists Helen Ganalmirriwuy and Margaret Rarru. She regularly travels with them and their families between her grandmother’s homeland Langarra (Howard Island) and Yurrwi (Milingimbi).