We acknowledge the Gadigal of the Eora Nation, the traditional custodians of the Country on which the Art Gallery of NSW stands.


Mol miṉḏirr (black conical basket)



  • Details

    Place where the work was made
    Milingimbi Central Arnhem Land Northern Territory Australia
    Media category
    Materials used
    natural dyes on pandanus (Pandanus spiralis) and kurrajong (Brachychiton populneus)
    27.9 x 12.0 x 12.0 cm
    Signature & date

    Not signed. Not dated.

    Commissioned with funds provided by the Mollie Gowing Acquisition Fund for Contemporary Aboriginal Art 2021
    North Building, ground level, Yiribana Gallery
    Accession number
    © Helen Ganalmirriwuy/Copyright Agency

    Reproduction requests

    Artist information
    Helen Ganalmirriwuy Garrawurra

    Works in the collection


  • About

    Milingimbi artists choose to create their woven artworks solely using materials harvested from their homelands. Many works are made from gunga (pandanus). The new shoots of the pandanus palm are plucked from the central crown of the tree. The fine serrated edges are removed by running a fingernail down each side of the frond, which is then split into two and peeled to expose the inner fibre. Using extensive knowledge of local vegetation, these strips are then dyed using colours extracted from the leaves, roots and bark of selected native plants and left to dry in the sun. Following this lengthy process, the artist weaves the prepared fibres into their desired form.

    The Milingimbi Art and Culture certificate for this work states: The technique of immersion dyeing has been widely practiced in Arnhem Land since around the 1920s. However, the recipe for creating natural black dye from local plants was refined by Helen Ganalmirriwuy Garrawurra’s sister, Margaret Rarru Garrawurra. Yolŋu weavers respect Rarru’s affinity with mol (black) and whilst they know the recipe and use mol in their work, the singular use of mol is reserved for Rarru and those who she gives permission. Over time, as Rarru's sisters, daughters and nieces develop their skills and express commitment to their craft, she allows them to also make pieces in their own style using black alone. However, at the time of making these works Rarru and Ganalmirriwuy were the only artists able to make miṉḏirr mol (black conical baskets), while their nieces Mandy Batjula and Elizabeth Rukarriwuy have permission to work with black using a coil stitch technique. When asked for the recipe for this unique natural dye Rarru and her family have been known to respond, “maybe one day you will sit with us and you will see”.

  • Places

    Where the work was made


  • Exhibition history

    Shown in 1 exhibition

Other works by Helen Ganalmirriwuy Garrawurra

See all 13 works