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Artists Call from the Depths of the Ocean

Oct 10, 2021 -- Posted by : di.below

For the Aboriginal ‘Saltwater People’, the coast and seascapes are part of their traditional lives – they are the caretakers of this environment, one of the world’s most spectacular untouched wildernesses. Their close connection to the ocean has shaped their culture on many levels including customs, recreation, diet and art. Evidence of their saltwater heritage can be found in the traditional artworks and pearl shell designs which are, meanwhile, highly regarded by both art enthusiasts, and collectors. 

Every art piece carries its own individual story, often reflecting strong cultural or environmental messages. Niman Aarl is the latest composition by the talented Kimberley Bard artist Darrell Sibosado and his nephew Darrell Kyle Sibosado - from Lombadina Community on the Dampier Peninsula, Western Australia. It was unveiled in September at Fremantle Arts Centre - IOTA21's (Indian Ocean Craft Triennial exhibition) ‘Curiosity & Rituals of the Everyday’.

Featuring more than 300 individually carved and pinned fish made from mother of  pearl, trochus, ebony, and turtle shell, Niman Aarl is the artists’ portrayal of the  disturbance you see on the water’s surface which indicates unseen activity beneath.

Niman Aarl2.jpg

“We’re reflecting on man’s need to always change and control the natural flow of      things – manipulating the delicate balance and rhythm of nature to suit himself – and what looks like just a surface disturbance runs much deeper”, says Darrell.

“It’s not new – throughout history, the impact of man on his environment is a running thread, and we need to take it a lot more seriously than we are”.

“The big gap in the middle represents the attempts to disconnect my people from our traditional culture which, again, has been caused by intervention and change”, Darrell explains.

Our artwork is a great vehicle for maintaining strong ties with our cultural history, stories and traditions. The overall shape is that of our ceremonial plates carved out of mother of pearl and is symbolic of the strength of our connection in the face of change.

Lombadina Community, Darrell’s home on the Dampier Peninsula, north of Broome is characterised by stunning colours – red roads, white beaches, pristine turquoise waters, thrilling fishing and breathtaking marine life. The community welcomes visitors to stay and play, learn about the Bard lifestyle and, through their thriving Art and Craft Centre, they are conserving and promoting the ancient tradition of pearl shell carving, creating original pieces, crafts and jewellery from local materials for display and for sale.

Niman Aarl is on display at Fremantle Arts Centre until November.

Where did this creative idea come from Darrell? “I was preparing to carve a piece of trochus shell and saw a fish - it didn’t need to be ‘created, it was already in there – so I said, let’s make lots more of these, a school of them, Niman Aarl “.

You can find the first ‘founding’ piece at the bottom right hand corner of the picture, the small one to the left of the two tails that are almost touching.

Next up - Darrell has been commissioned to be a participating artist in the National Indigenous Art Triennial at the National Gallery of Australia, Canberra.

For more info about the shell art, community stay, fishing and tours at Lombadina visit https://www.lombadina.com/

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