Ngalkunburriyaymi (Mermaid) – Major Work


Kuninjku people call mermaids yawkyawk, but in my language, Kune, we call them Ngalkunburriyaymi (pronounced Ngaal gun borro yay mee).

The Ngalkunburriyaymi depicted in my artworks is from a place called Marra-yii (sp?).  There are too many Ngalkunburriyaymi living at this place.  They are always there and have been there forever. We can go camping and fishing at this place.  Marar-yii is a place in the river. They are freshwater. They are Duwa moiety. Same as the freshwater crocodile. 

My mum told me her story.  Ngalkunburriyaymi gave her a baby.  Ngalkunburriyaymi came to her in a dream.  They gave her my brother. In my mother’s dream, she went fishing Marra-yii and Ngalkunburriyaymi came to her to tell her she was having a baby.  She said to her I will give you a baby.  In a couple of months, you will be pregnant.

Ngalkunburriyaymi eats fish and waterlilies.

Owen Yalandja is my cousin from my father’s side and Lulu is my grandmother also from my father’s side. They are from different outstations, but we are family.  My Ngalkunburriyaymi story is connected to them but different.

I love my mother’s story and it is why I made a lino plate. I print it on different colour fabrics – silk, linen and cotton. I like using lots of different colours.  I come from a family who have made artwork on bark and hollow logs using ochre—black, yellow, red and white. But at Babbarra Designs, we can use bright colours in our fabric designs.