Choosing who will keep the stories strong

In early 2006, the renowned Liyagauwumirr painter Mickey Durrng Garrawurra died in his home on Milingimbi. For many years, Durrng (1940-2006) and his brother Tony Dhanyala (1935-2004) were the only people authorised to paint the Liyagauwumirr’s most important clan designs. 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.

More by Henry F. Skerritt

Support independent writing on the visual arts. Subscribe or donate here.