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.
Liyagawumirr – Garrawurra