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Paris unveils new eyeful from Eiffel Tower

08 june 2013, 12:08
0
©AFP
©AFP
Visitors to the Eiffel Tower began getting a little extra for the price of their entry ticket on Thursday with the unveiling of a new landmark on Paris's artistic landscape, AFP reports.

Or skyscape rather as the new art work has been installed on a roof at the Quai Branly museum on the banks of the Seine, just a stone's throw from the iconic tower that is visited by more than seven million people every year.

From Thursday evening, those visitors were able to admire a massive enlargement of a work by Australian Aboriginal artist Lena Nyadbi which has been stencilled on to the roof using rubberised paint.

The 700-square-metre (7,500 sq. ft) installation has been specifically designed so that it will be visible from several different levels of the tower.

Its prominence at the centre of a city regarded as the art capital of the world will make it likely to become the best-known example of the art of Australia's indigenous peoples, described by the late critic Robert Hughes as "the last great art movement of the 20th Century."

As such, it also represents remarkable recognition for Nyadbi, an artist now in her late 70s who began her working life as a child labourer on the arid cattle stations of northwestern Australia and only began painting around the age of 60.

Nyadabi's black and white abstract piece is entitled Dayiwul Lirlmim (Barramundi Scales) and is 46 times bigger than the ochre and charcoal original created as a visual interpretation of a creation story from the Gija people of Western Australia.

In the story, three women try to catch a barramundi. The fish gets away from the women but, as it escapes, it scatters its scales across the territory of the Gija in the East Kimberley region of Western Australia, thus providing an explanation of why that region came to be one of the world's leading sources of diamonds.

The land featured in the story is now scarred by the presence of the world's largest diamond mine and Nyadabi admitted that reality had ensured mixed emotions when she first saw the rooftop installation, from the Eiffel Tower on Monday.

"I was very emotional and full of pride," she said. "At the same time I had tears in my eyes. "When I looked down I felt sorry for my country - the landscape has been changed but the dream hasn't."

By Sunday, Nyabadi will be back home, and she said she would tell her friends her barramundi are getting on just fine in world's cultural capital.

"I'll tell them I saw my dayiwul at the side of the river in Paris and they were ready to jump into the water!"

Nyadbi's work is already a permanent fixture in the museum as she created a mural, Jimbirla and Gemerre (spearheads and scarifications), that adorns one of the external walls.

Works by seven other Australian Aboriginal artists are featured on ceilings throughout the museum, in line with the wishes of its renowned architect, Jean Nouvel.

"I saw something in their art that is very architectural," Nouvel explained.

To mark the opening of the new rooftop installation, Australia's embassy in Paris is hosting a parallel exhibition of works by eight Gija artists, including Nyabadi.

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