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Lena Yarinkura lives outside Maningrida in central Arnhem Land. After learning to make the conventional range of twined pandanus baskets and string weavings, she adapted these techniques with wit and ingenuity to make life-size woven sculptures, taking Arnhem Land fibre work in an exciting new direction.
Yawkyawk are a recurring theme for Yarinkura and a very real part of her environment and identity. These enigmatic female water spirits inhabit several sites in freshwater streams and pools, and one of these lies in the artist's mother's country at Bolkdjam. With a fish tail, and long hair resembling trailing blooms of green algae, they are similar to the European idea of a mermaid.
This Yawkyawk is formed of pandanus strands coloured with local bush dyes in a loose, twined technique. The body is stuffed with paperbark to which bound pandanus fibre arms are attached. Bands of white cockatoo feathers indicate that this is a 'secret' mermaid, decorated for ceremonial dance.
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