39 x 21cm Paper: HAHNEMUHLE 66 x 28cm
Lipa Lipa (Canoe) – String Figure
This print was made by using string made by Bumuti / Lipaki#1 Djulapana.
The print, is one in a series of five, made in response to the collection of mounted string figures known in Yolngu as matjka made in Yirrkala in 1948, in the Australian Museum, Sydney.
Soft ground, etched in nitric acid, on zinc plate. Printed using Charbonnel inks: red ochre mixed with warm red (modified with plate oil and easy-wipe solution). Cloth wipe only. Printed cold.
Editioned by: Heather Burness, Canberra
This figure is very popular not just in Yirrkala but almost universally, due no doubt to its ease of making. Most, if not all indigenous cultures in the world, have made string figures at some point in their history. The occurrence of the same or similar figures in different and often distant and widespread communities, has posed questions about origins and ownership of designs: have they been transmitted through contact between peoples or have they been independently generated?
This figure for example is known in Aotearoa New Zealand, and you may know it, as ‘Cup and Saucer’. There is also variation in the meanings of figures between more proximate communities. In the historical record there are figures known as one thing in Yirrkala, and something else in another Aboriginal community. The same figure can have different local meanings, attributed by agreement among a particular community of users – makers and their audience. While a design may not be culture-specific in itself, the interpretation or meaning attributed to the design often is. In Yirrkala this figure is lipalipa or canoe.
Robyn McKenzie PhD Candidate, ANU
Printed by Heather Burness, Grey Lady Press, July 2010