Blue tac, string and cups of tea
“There isn’t a more skilled set of peoples to find in rural and remote communities than those in the art centres so the easiest way to learn about anything to do with that area is…
Partnering with remote Indigenous Art Centres to deliver a landmark digital project that empowers Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander artists to create and share unique arts and cultural experiences with the world.
Bábbarra Women’s Centre brings together women from more than 12 language groups in the Maningrida region to share knowledge and ideas. The artists design and hand-print exquisite textiles that they sell around the world. Each length of fabric is unique and tells the ancestral stories of Arnhem Land Country and cultures. Importantly, working creatively with Bábbarra Designs is a way for participating women to achieve financial independence, for their community and the next generation.
Lot 475, Maningrida NT 0822
Janet Marawarr is a senior Kuninjku artist at Babbarra Designs working across Lino and screen print on fabric. Marawarr regards textile design as an opportunity to work with colour and new methods to express her djang (ancestral creation stories). In 2019 she travelled to Paris to launch the touring exhibition, Jarracharra ( Dry Season Wind) of which her work featured. In 2022 she travelled to LA where her work was exhibited with Aboriginal Screen-Printed Textiles from Australia’s Top End at Fowler Museum, UCLA.
In January 2023 Marawarr was invited by the Australian Consul- General, Kolkata to explore the textile region of West Bengal as a guest of honour. She participated in a 10 day tour of the region sharing knowledge with other women’s groups including the Bridging Culture and Art Foundation Kantha studio in Tushkhali, Sundarbans; the Sadaf India Studio and the Navajeevan Co-operative Society in Jajpur, Odisha.
As well as her textile designs with Bábbarra Women’s Centre, Marawarr is an established bark painter with Maningrida Arts & Crafts and she works for the Maningrida Night Patrol, a community safety service.
Esther is a Kunibidji artist with a deep knowledge of culture and country which she brings to her textile design. Esther is also integral and energetic member of the Bábbarra Women’s Centre sewing team and works across all areas of Bábbarra the studio including sewing, printing and designing. Esther’s first two colour design depicts the story of fire sticks and bones carried in a dillybag, which was common practice for her elders. The fire sticks are also known as letter sticks and served as a permit for balanda. Esther is also an accomplished weaver, with pandanus and nja-djéngka (bayan) works at Maningrida Arts and Culture. Her knotted string bags and mókko (bark skirt, pubic covering) are exquisite and a practice she learned from the the traditional owner of Maningrida, Joy Garlbin’s late father. Esther has a rich knowledge of her family history, and has worked as a tour guide at the Djomi Museum.
Raylene Bonson is a talented textile artist, specialising in linocut technique. She has been working with Bábbarra Designs since 2012. Raylene was mentored by her late mother, Nancy Gununwanga, a senior textile artist at Bábbarra Designs and a founding member of Bábbarra Women’s Centre. Raylene is well known for her designs depicting ancestral stories and ceremonial objects, in particular lorrkkon (hollow log for burial ceremony), kunmadj (dillybag) and mandjabu (conical fishtrap).
Elizabeth was born in Darwin. She started sewing and designing at Bábbarra in 2010 and is a key member of the sewing team. Elizabeth’s intricate lino print designs depict the marine life from her salt water homeland of Gupanga. Elizabeth says her artistic talent comes from her late mother Doris Gingingara who painted textile prints for Desert Designs in the 1980’s. Elizabeth has recently started drawing in texta in a style that reflect the colourful line work made famous by her mother. Elizabeth designed and sewed outfits for the 2018 Commonwealth Games. Her screen print design Rrugurrgurda (Mud Crab) was part of the successful Kip&Co x Babbarra homewares collection in 2020.
Marilyn is a senior artist with deep knowledge of culture & country which she brings to textiles and her design story. Marilyn has represented Babbarra in Adelaide at the Tarnanthi Art Fair which she enjoyed. Marilyn’s first design depicts the story of funeral logs (Lorrkkon). ‘This is the story of my great great grandfather and grandmother who were bark painters and Lorrkkon painters. I remember this story, and decided to make this my first design. My mother used to weave, she made pandanus hats, floormats, baskets and dilly bag.’ She also depicts Ranba (beach) and Yokkarra (fish), Ngaduma (palm tree) and Barruar (seagull egg) in her Lino print designs.
Abigail has been working as an artist at Bábbarra Women’s Centre since 2012. She joined the team as an arts worker in 2022. Abigail comes from a strong line of talented artists, her late mother is the renowned Jennifer Wurrkidj and her grandmother was Helen Lanyinwanga. Three generations of women from Abigail’s family have worked together at Bábbarra Women’s Centre, sharing ancestral knowledge and creating beautiful textile designs.
Abigail’s totems are Gungura (Spiral wind) and Kunwardde (Stone country rocks). She loves to print Manbirrbirr (small bush flowers), Buluwana (Kuninjku Spirit Woman, yawkyawk (Young woman mermaid spirit) and marebu (pandanus mat).
Deborah Wurrkidj is an internationally renowned, versatile artist who has readily adapted to new art forms while retaining her strong clan traditions. She has been working with Bábbarra Designs since 1991, alongside her mother, Helen Lanyinwanga, and sister Jennifer Wurrkidj. She is a leading textile artist and an integral member of Bábbarra Women’s Centre. Deborah’s work is vibrant, tactile and intricate, evocative of the local natural environment as well as referencing her deep cultural knowledge. Her extensive body of textile art is illustrative of the artistic innovation that has occurred in Maningrida in recent times and that is apparent in her work in other mediums also. Deborah is world renowned for her bark ainting, lorrkkon (hollow logs), and fibre baskets. She has exhibited widely since 2001, throughout Australia as well as in Europe and the United States. She is represented in most of Australia’s state gallery collections.
Belinj Jay is a Kune, Dalabon and Rembarrngga woman from the Barappa clan. For Kune people, like many others across Arnhem Land, the world is divided into two moieties: Duwa and Yirridjdja. These moieties are woven into the kinship system guiding a person’s relationships and responsibilities to their family and the environment. Every tree, animal, bird, and body of water can be identified as either Duwa or Yirridjdja and this moiety system extends to stories, songlines and dreaming.
Belinj Jay works across multiple mediums including Lino print and etching drawing, screen printing and fibre art. Her work illustrative and intricate, portraying the ancestral stories of her freshwater homeland. Jay often depicts Modjarrkki (fresh water crocodile), birdlife from the wetlands including Kawk (Heron) and Ngalkordow (Brolga) as well as dancing and hunting mimihs.
The Modjarrkki story belongs to the Barappa clan and is from the Duwa Country Dukala-djarranj and Kolorbidahdah located in the stone country of West Arnhem Land. The Songline and story has been passed down to Jay by her father (Dad’s brother) and is a true story, a story that really happened. This story is still practiced through bunggul during cultural celebrations and gatherings.
Jay’s recent achievements include teaching a series of children’s lino printing workshops at The National Museum of Australia during their 2023 NAIDOC Week events.
Artists at Iltja Ntjarra Art Centre are Western Aranda people and paint their Country using the watercolour techniques passed on by Albert Namatjira down family lines, known as the Hermannsburg School of painting. The Country…
Sitting in the shade at Angurugu Women’s Art Centre, a group of Anindilyakwa women listen to visitors who have travelled far to meet with them on Groote Eylandt, located in the Gulf of Carpentaria in…
Nestled alongside the Musgrave Ranges in Pukatja community in the remote north-west of South Australia, Ernabella Arts on the Aṉangu Pitjantjatjara Yankunytjatjara (APY) Lands is the oldest continuously running Indigenous art centre in Australia. In…
Fibre art holds a deep and venerated tradition within Yolŋu culture and the weavers of Arnhem Land, with the core material used being Gunga (Pandanus spiralis). The Rrambaŋi (Gunga Mat) installation at the 2023…
Song rings out through the art centres as an Elder sings the story of the Country they are painting, renewing their Country while teaching the story to any in earshot; sometimes when this happens people…
UPLANDS is an immersive digital project that has been designed to celebrate Indigenous Art Centres and share Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander artistic and cultural practices with the world.
This large scale immersive digital mapping project features over twenty remote Indigenous Art Centres, and interviews with over 150 Indigenous artists and arts workers from across the country.
UPLANDS is a project by Agency and has been funded by the Australian Government through the Restart to Invest, Sustain and Expand (RISE) program and the Indigenous Visual Art Industry Support (IVAIS) program.
We acknowledge the Traditional Owners and Sovereign Custodians of the land on which we live and work. We extend our respects to their Ancestors and all First Nations peoples and Elders past, present, and future.