Marebu and Bush Dye

Deborah Wurrkidj is a Kuninjku artist from the Kurulk clan whose country lies around the outstation of Mumeka in central Arnhem Land. She is an accomplished artist working across mediums including painting, sculpture, weaving and textile design. 

Deborah currently lives on Kakodbebuldi Outstaion where she is working from her home studio. Deborah has dyed silk using locally harvested plants cooked over an open fire.

The print design is Marebu (woven pandanus mats).

Artists usually use kundayarr, pandanus spiralis, to weave decorative round or oblong mats, as well as the less common triangular and conical shapes. Weaving is physically hard work, now done only by women. They colour the pandanus using natural dyes made from the roots, leaves or flowers of plants within the weaver’s clan estate.

The radial woven patterns of the finest round mats appear to vibrate with colour, sometimes regarded as an aesthetic manifestation of deep cultural meaning, as there is a significant spiritual dimension to pandanus mats.