Musée du quai Branly. La terrasse panoramique. Oeuvre de l'artiste Lena Nyadbi. 5 novembre 2013.

Aboriginal works on the roof and ceilings

(1) Tommy Watson, Wipu Rockhole, 2005. University building of the musée du quai Branly - Jacques Chirac, 5th floor © musée du quai Branly - Jacques Chirac, photo by Antonin Borgeaud.

On the Ceilings of the University Building

Integrating this approach within the museum’s architectural concept, Jean Nouvel had the idea of presenting Australian aboriginal art through artistic installations on the ceilings and façade of the building on Rue de l’Université. Striving to combine artistic discovery and quality, the musée du quai Branly - Jacques Chirac and the Australian institutions greeted this project enthusiastically and decided to involve 8 artists: 4 female artists (Lena Nyadbi, Judy Watson, Gulumbu Yunupingu, Ningura Napurrula) and 4 male artists (John Mawurndjul, Paddy Nyunkuny Bedford, Michael Riley, Tommy Watson) originating from different communities and cultures (art of the territories and urban art). Each is heir to a thousand-year-old art that has now found its place amongst the movements of contemporary art.
The painted ceilings and façade of the musée du quai Branly - Jacques Chirac bear witness to the vitality of contemporary aboriginal art and help to promote the great spiritual heritage of this thousand-year-old people.

On the Roof of the Media Library, Museum Building

Inaugurated on June 6 2013 on the 700 m² terrace of the museum’s media library, this monumental work is a detail from the painting Dayiwul Lirlmim (Scales of a Barramundi) by Lena Nyadbi. An original concept, this work is not visible from the museum, but only by the 7 million visitors who climb the Eiffel Tower each year and soon by the users of Google Maps. It was produced using 172 stencils measuring 3m x 1.5m, i.e. a 46x magnification.
 

Lena Nyadbi at Warmun Art Centre, Western Australia © Anna Williams, Warmun Art Centre 2012

Lena Nyadbi: A Major Artist of Contemporary Aboriginal Art

The artist Lena Nyadbi, a member of the Gija people, was born in around 1936 in Walmanjikulum in East Kimberley, Western Australia. She began her artistic career in 1998 and is today represented by the Warmun Art Centre, a cultural institution which brings together artists from the aboriginal community of Warmun (Turkey Creek). She learnt to paint from that pioneering generation of aboriginal artists to which she belongs, including Paddy Jaminji, Queenie McKenzie and Rover Thomas. She still paints with natural ochres and charcoal originating from Gija territory.  
Her daring interpretation of traditional motifs, which has become the distinctive characteristic of her work, was immediately noted for its visual mastery and creativity. In Lena Nyadbi’s art, the key motifs relating to her territory are a platform for her experiments with color and space. Her work is dominated by symbolic references to the ancestral barramundi Dayiwul (a species of perch with U-shaped scales), jimbirla (spearheads) and gemerre (scarifications), depicted individually or in groups.
Lena Nyadbi is one of the major representatives of contemporary aboriginal art in East Kimberley. The work on the roof of the media library is the second designed by Lena Nyadbi for the musée du quai Branly - Jacques Chirac, after the work entitled Jimbirla & Gemerre (spearhead and scarification), produced on the façade of the building on Rue de l’Université.
 

(3) Lena Nyadbi, Dayiwul Lirlmim (Scales of a Barramundi). Natural ochre and charcoal on linen canvas, 2012

Barramundi Scales Dreaming

Dayiwul Lirlmim Ngarrangarni, literally “Barramundi Scales Dreaming”, is connected to the territory of Lena Nyadbi’s parents, the territory of the ancestral barramundi Dayiwul, where the largest diamond mine in the world is now located.
“Barramundi Scales Dreaming” tells the mythical story of three women trying to catch the barramundi Dayiwul using a net made of spinifex grass. They chased it to the shallows of the river but it succeeded in escaping them by leaping over the net and fleeing via the rocks. When he fell, his scales spread out on the ground on the current site of the mine. Lena Nyadbi has often underlined the resemblance of the scales to diamonds.


 

Discover the Work of Lena Nyadbi on Film

To mark the inauguration of the work by Lena Nyadbi, a team from Cinétévé followed the stages of installation, meeting the different people involved, from the first sketches to the installation of the detail of Dayiwul Lirlmim on the roof of the museum.

Discover this film in full on Medici.tv and extracts in a dedicated playlist on the museum’s YouTube channel.

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Une œuvre aborigène sur le toit du musée...

Stéphane Martin, président du musée du...

1:53 min