Your artworks
Joy Garlbin, Djomi Sculpture, 108cm
  • Joy Garlbin, Djomi Sculpture, 108cm
  • Joy Garlbin, Djomi Sculpture, 108cm
Joy Garlbin, Djomi Sculpture, 108cm
Joy Garlbin, Djomi Sculpture, 108cm

Joy Garlbin, Djomi Sculpture, 108cm

  • Aboriginal Artist - Joy Garlbin
  • Community - Maningrida
  • Homeland - Manayangkarírra
  • Aboriginal Art Centre - Maningrida Arts and Culture
  • Catalogue number - 810-21
  • Materials - Leichhardt Tree with Ochre Pigment and PVA Fixative
  • Size(cm) - H105 W4 D4 (irregular shape)
  • Display - This artwork requires a stand or hanging mechanism

There are two Dreaming ladies at Bábbarra billabong – Djómi and Bábbarra. These two are sisters: one freshwater ‘mermaid’ and one saltwater one. Big long head, big stomach and very skinny legs that Bábbarra.
Their mother is the crocodile who lives in the Bábbarra billabong.
Both sisters will give people babies through the drinking water at Bábbarra. That’s why men stay away and Bábbarra is a sacred women’s site. Too strong our Dreaming – even men can get that baby in their tummies!
When it rains at Bábbarra, or when a cyclone comes, it’s because our Dreaming is too strong. There are lots of women spirits. When the storms come, the spirits go into the underground rivers and hide safely.
If you go fishing in our country, you have to be careful not to catch the Bábbarra and Djómi ‘mermaids’. Some people catch them thinking they are barramundi, but they are actually the ‘mermaid’ spirits. You will know because they have white hair.
Lena Djabibba, djungkay (mother’s country and ceremonial manager of Bábbarra), and Joy Garlbin (landowner for Bábbarra).

Text courtesy of Bábbarra Women's Centre

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An art movement that is striking, political and enduring: this is what contemporary artists in Maningrida and the surrounding homelands have built, powered by their ancestral connections to country and djang.

Ways of learning and schools of art in Arnhem Land are based around a system of passing knowledge and information on to others. The art here has its genesis in body design, rock art and cultural practices, in concert with more than 50 years of collaborations, travel and political action to retain ownership of country. Values and law are expressed through language, imagery, manikay (song), bunggul (dance), doloppo bim (bark painting), sculptures, and kun-madj (weaving) – the arts.

The artists’ transformation of djang into contemporary artistic expression has intrigued people around the world: art curators and collectors, and stars including Yoko Ono, Jane Campion, David Attenborough and Elton John. Pablo Picasso said of Yirawala’s paintings, ‘This is what I’ve been trying to achieve all my life.’

Yirawala (c.1897–1976) was a legendary Kuninjku leader, artist, land-rights activist and teacher, and his artwork was the first of any Indigenous artist to be collected by the National Gallery of Australia as part of a policy to represent in depth the most significant figures in Australian art.

Maningrida Arts & Culture is based on Kunibídji country in Arnhem Land in Australia’s Northern Territory. The area where artists live encompasses 7,000 square kilometres of land and sea, and over 100 clan estates, where people speak more than 12 distinct languages. Aboriginal people in this region are still on country, surviving and resilient because their country is the centre of their epistemology, their belief system, culture – djang.

Artists’ works from the larger Maningrida region can be seen in collections and institutions around the world. We work with museums, contemporary galleries and high-end retailers both nationally and internationally on projects throughout the year.

Text courtesy: Maningrida Arts and Culture

Life is better with art