Miru Sculpture – Warakurna Arts

For my Pleasant Sunday Afternoon post Edwina has kindly allowed me to repost this post from her Warakurna Arts blog “Thriving in the Desert“.

To mark Warakurna Artists fifth year of operation it will be facilitating a powerful intergenerational men’s weaponry craft project. This project will have significant artistic outcomes including the creation of a series of major bronze sculptures.

A key aim of the men’s project is to support a reinvigoration of traditional wooden weaponry production and to immortalise the pieces in bronze. The project will also help celebrate the vibrancy and power of Ngaanyatjarra culture.

Sculptor Brendan Hackett of Blueprint Sculpture Foundry of Melbourne will help to facilitate this important project. Brendan has already collaborated with Ernest Bennett, senior painter and Master carver, to create a bronze miru (spearthrower).

The Bronze Miru is available only as a limited edition of six sculputures. Please contact Warakurna Artists + 61 (0)8 8955 8099 to enquire about the price of this sculpture and to place your order.


Ernest Bennett was born near Warbuton and now lives in Warakurna with his family. His country is Karrku not far from Warakurna.

A miru is extracted with economy as a vertical segment from a living mulga tree, its craftsman then working with the grain to reduce the portion to the thin even leaf, its minimal form following the demands each of its multiple functions.

The miru is the essence of western desert minimalism. As the extension of a man’s arm it will amplify the power and distance that a spear can be hurled. Its leaf-shaped-core doubles as a container for mixing pituri and can carry ochre. Its burnished edge, when rubbed on a softer wood makes fire. Tipped with a freshly napped blade, the same implement is used as a perfectly balanced adze to butcher fresh-cooked kangaroo or to hone an identical weapon, created on its own perfect template.

Ernest Bennett’s Miru has been cast and is poised, as if on the suspension of a rolled-over-motorcar, a vehicles leaf-spring-suspension adapted for a new use. All is kinetic energy – waiting for the target to come within the range of this lethal propellent.

Text courtesy of John Kean, Museum Victoria 2008
Photograph: Alexander Lyne

Note: pituri is more a central Australian term for native tobacco. Out west it is called mingkurlpa. Have a Pleasant Sunday Afternoon.

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Western Desert Artists

Whenever I see a report on anything to do with Aboriginal people it seems to be essential to have some Aboriginal art on the cover. Having had my fill of reports over the last few weeks I thought I would point you to some Western Desert art.

Up to the north of us we have the world famous Papunya Tula artists from Kintore and Kiwirrkurra. To the left is a picture from Charlie Wallaby. The snake is the totem from his country.

Papunya Tula also have a terrific book about their artists over the last 25 years with the artists and their works on show. It is on my shopping list.

A Kiwirrkurra artist, Patrick Tjungurrayi won the Western Australian Indigenous Art Award in 2008..

I posted a few days ago about the Western Desert Mob with an exhibition they currently have at the Melbourne Museum. Since then I have discovered a couple of blogs from the managers of two of the arts centres.

Edwina who manages Warakurna Artists (look at the galleries) blogs at Thriving in The Desert. There are some great pictures of the Yamatji Pirni (many friendships) exhibition at the museum. The blog is full of news and views with up to date information of what is occurring in the indigenous art world.

In September 2008 Warakurna Artists won Reconciliation Australia and BHP Billiton’s Indigenous Governance Awards.

Dianna manages Papulankutja Artists (site down at time of writing). Her blog, Remote Life is more a life and times style of blog. Some good pictures of our recent rains (also see my pics).

All the organisations mentioned are community/artist owned. I commend them highly to anyone wanting to purchase authentic indigenous art, knowing the money flows back to the artist and art centre. better than the carpet baggers who promise easy money to family in return for them to persuade the artist family member to go away and paint to a fairly punishing schedule in some instances.

43 indigenous art organisations representing over 1000 indigenous artists spoke out in August 2008 about the devastating effects that art dealing outside the Art Centres has on Aboriginal communities. Dealing outside these art centres can diminish the value to the artist. You are also never sure if you are purchasing a legitimate item.

Over at IP Osogoode there is an interesting post about GI (geographical indicators) and Australian Aboriginal Art and using this “so that its integrity and underlying traditional knowledge are preserved.”

Oh – and that Charlie Wallaby painting – it’s mine!

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