In Daly River artist Kieren Karritpul’s art there is no escaping the woven lines of inspiration. The woven form is both subject and metaphor in his work, and also to some extent part of their process. In his first solo exhibition, Karritypul, the titles of his paintings, prints and textile-based work all indicated a particular woven form including the yerrgi which is actually a pre-woven form, yerrgi being the Daly River word (Ngan’gikurrungurr language) for the ubiquitous Sand Palm (Merrepen, Livistona humilis), the main sources of fibre for Top End weavers.
In essence, Kieren’s yerrgi bundles symbolise the potency of weaving and the woven form and become a metaphor for the very idea of potency. Perhaps this is an autobiographical touch from someone so young who is in the early formative stages of realising his own potential as an artist. And yet there is a delightful and seasoned ingenuity in Kieren’s choice and varied rendering of the yerrgi bundle.
Like Monet’s haystacks – vehicles for the study and celebration of light, Kieren’s yerrgi-‘stacks’ are a meditation on and celebration of Aboriginal culture.
In these abstracted views, the woven form almost becomes mandala-like with the imagery built up from radiating bands of short parallel lines. In this sense the line can be seen as a faithful transposition of the coil weave technique rather than the traditionally longer, looser stitches though it is in effect more about Kieren’s visual-poetic licence in the process of translating one form into another to become something much more than what it represents; to transcend. – Maurice O’Riordan, Director, Northern Centre for Contemporary Art, 2015 (Woven Lines catalogue essay excerpts)
Download the Painting my Landscape, Painting my Culture essay by Dr Cathy Laudenbach
Read more in Art Collector, August 2021