WERRKNO: Raylene Bonson Tea Towel
Four works from the Werrkno series, one from each artist, have been reproduced as tea towels in collaboration with Laundry Gallery.
During the early burn of Yekke (cold) season, Kalidjan Janet Marawarr, Ngarridjdjan Raylene Bonson, Kamanj Carol Liyawanga Campion and Bulanjdjan Lucy Yarawanga, camped out on top of the Djinkarr escarpment for a week of artistic exploration. Facilitated by Ingrid Johanson, there was no expectation, no outcome or no theme for the trip. Instead it was a chance have uninterrupted time on country, exploring different mediums and developing new artistic skills.
Overlooking the picturesque flood plain of Gurrgoni Country and camping under the dry season stars, art making was fuelled by sounds and smells of the surrounding savanna woodlands, with country providing an endless source of earth pigment to grind, young leaves and broken twigs to use as painting tools, and charcoal from the fire to create a rich black paint. Artists explored new techniques painting using natural pigments from the earth ground on paper, as well as monochromatic mark making using charcoal and Indian ink.
As the workshop evolved, the artist's focus shifted to looking closer at cultural narratives and details of ancestral beings - in particular, their bodies and skin. Over the days, the women gravitated towards depicting Werrkno, the Kuninjku work for skin/scales/bark/husks, with each woman depicting Werrkno from her own cultural perspectives.
Ngarridjdjan used the workshop to experiment with monochromatic works of a smaller, finer scale than her usual Wubbunj (Makkasan Boat) design. Using charcoal from the fire and Indian ink, Ngarridjdjandepicted the intimate details of mimih and yawkyawk skin. She used the young leaves of the sand palm chiselled into a pointed brush, as well as the miniscule twigs from the acacia tree to make the fine markings. The memorising marks represent the patterns and repetition of the mimih and yawkyawk body, both beings that inhabit the stone country in Arnhem Land. The mimih lives among the caves and rock crevices of the stone country, while the yawkyawk young woman spirit is covered in scales and lives submerged under water in billabongs and freshwater streams.
Ngarridjdjan Raylene Bonson is known for her textile art and her work with Babbarra Women's Centre which begun in 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. She comes from an incredible artistic lineage as a member of the Dangkorlo clan her brothers are artists Owen Yalandja, Samson Bonson, and the late C. Kurrdal and T. Wulanjbirr.
Moving from figurative depictions of Wubbunj (Makassan Boat), Mandjabu (Fish Trap) and Kunmadj (Dilly Bag) that a seen in Raylene's vast ... of screen and lino prints at Babbarra Designs. These works on paper are close and abstracted depictions of mimih and yawkyawk skin and scales, echoing the mark making of her brothers.
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