France - Australia

Eiffel Tower visitors get birdseye view of Lena Nyadbi's aboriginal art

© musée du quai Branly, photo Cyril Zannettacci

A new art work has been installed on the roof at the Quai Branly museum on the left bank of the river Seine, especially so that visitors to the nearby Eiffel Tower can enjoy looking down on it.


From Thursday evening, a huge 700-square-metre enlargement of a work by Australian Aboriginal artist Lena Nyadbi will be visible from the tower.

It has been stencilled on to the roof using rubberised paint and been specifically designed so that it can be seen from several different levels of the tower.

The Eiffel Tower is visited by more than seven million people every year and the artwork is now likely to become the best-known example of the art of Australia's indigenous peoples, described by the late critic Robert Hughes as "the last great art movement of the 20th Century."

Lena Nyadbi is now in her late 70s and she began her working life as a labourer on the arid cattle stations of northwestern Australia.

Her black and white abstract piece is entitled Dayiwul Lirlmim (Barramundi Scales) and is 46 times bigger than the ochre and charcoal original, a visual interpretation of a creation story from the Gija people of Western Australia.

In the story, three women try to catch a barramundi. Escaping from them, the fish scatters its scales across the territory of the Gija in the East Kimberley region, making it one of the world's leading sources of diamonds.

Nyadbi's work is already a permanent fixture in the museum as she created a mural, Jimbirla and Gemerre (Spearheads and Scarifications) which adorns one of the external walls.

Works by seven other Australian Aboriginal artists are featured on ceilings throughout the museum.

After an unusually wet Paris spring, the rooftop paintwork, using the same weatherproof paint as for the city's traffic signs, was completed just in time for the opening.


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