Mickey Dorrng Garrawurra

Djirrididi Design, 1998
natural earth pigments on velin arches paper
152 x 101 cm (paper)

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Painted at Elcho Island, Northern Territory
Elcho Island Arts & Crafts, Northern Territory
Acquired from the above in July 2001

Elcho Island Arts & Crafts, Northern Territory

On the island of Milingimbi, Arnhem Land, Mickey Durrng Garrawurra was one of two men entrusted with painting the body with djirrididi designs during the Ngarra cleansing ceremony. The djirrididi designs chart the journey of Dja'nkawu sisters who, according to traditional stories, created life, language and art in the region. The red (miku), white (watharr) and yellow (buthjalak) is collected from natural earth pigments and applied to the body to reflect elements of the ritual narratie: white on the hands to signify the landing of the Sisters in Arnhem Land and an intersection of lines where the Sisters struck water by plunging sticks into the earth. In the 1990s, Durrng began transposing these ceremonial motifs onto bark and paper, revealing their minimalist elegance. While the colour fields and strong vertical lines are reminiscent of modern and contemporary painters like Barnett Newman, the resemblance is entirley coincidental. An elder in his community, Durrng's focus was firmly on the continuity and preservation of his culture; his paintings document and make permanent designs that carry great spiritual weight for his community.

  • Djirrididi Design

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