Yothu bathi (baby baskey) (#214-20)
Pandanus and bush dyes, 95 x 36 x 40 cm, 2020
‘Yothu bathi’ or baby basket is a functional artwork that also carries the metaphor and symbolism of the artists inherited clan responsibilities.
The striped geometric design of this piece is informed by Rarru’s Liyagauwumirr clan ceremonial body paint designs. Rarru and her sisters began using these designs in their weaving and painting in 2006, when their brother, revered artist Mickey Durrng Garrawurra, passed authority to Rarru and her sisters to take over custodianship of the Liyagauwumirr Djirri-didi (ceremonial body paint designs). Henry Skerritt writes: “There is a refined elegance to these designs: at their simplest they consist of nothing more than a series of austere horizontal bands of yellow, red and white. To the Liyagauwumirr, however, they contain all the mysteries of their ancestral homelands. According to Durrng, ‘These designs are the power of the land. The sun, the water, creation, for everything.’ Rich in ‘inside’ meanings, the full ‘story’ contained within these designs was traditionally known only to initiated Liyagauwumirr men. Before his death, however, Durrng made the seemingly unorthodox decision to pass this knowledge and authority to his sister Ruth Nalmakarra (b.1954) and her family. What followed was a flowering of tradition, as Nalmakarra and her sisters used this broadened authority to instigate a cultural revival that united their community around these ancient designs.”
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