Artist: HELEN MILMINYDJARRK
Size/ medium: 6 x 6 / JEWELERY – Gunga (Pandanus Spiralis)
Manimani (body adornment) has a long history in Yolngu culture. Items made from locally collected materials including, seeds, nuts, shells and plant fibres are made into items worn for ceremony or simply for every day use – in the words of artist Ruth Nalmarkarra “to make us pretty.”
Bulgurr (kurragong) is a plant with multiple uses and signifiers in Yolngu culture. To make string the artists cut down the tree using an axe or machete, beat the outer bark with the blunt side of the axe until the bark can be peeled away from the inner core, the fibre that sits between the inner core and bark is then separated from the outer bark. This fibre is then dried and spun into string on their inner thigh of the artist. Creating a tight twin and making the string into a consistent gage is a skill developed over time with much practice.
Pandanus is a tropical plant that grows readily in Milingimbi. The young leaves or new growth are harvested for weaving. Once collected, spikes are removed and the leaf is skilfully split horizontally, dried and dyed. Dyes are derived from combinations of leaves, roots and ashes from native plants. Each artist has their own specific knowledge of dying and desired palette of colous. The intimate knowledge of weaving methods and pigments used by the artist were shared with her by her mother and aunties.