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Object Timeline

1970

1989

  • Work on this object began.

1992

  • We acquired this object.

2015

2021

  • You found it!

Textile, Tharrakarre, 1989

This is a Textile. It is dated 1989 and we acquired it in 1992. Its medium is silk and its technique is wax-resist dyed (batik) on plain weave. It is a part of the Textiles department.

The Utopia Women’s Batik group was formed in 1977 to empower the women of the Utopia Aboriginal Freehold Property to generate income from creative work. Batik, or wax-resist dyeing, is not indigenous to Australia, but among the many crafts the women were exposed to, batik was the most popular technique. Through the 1980s the group, consisting of dozens of artists, produced work for sale through the CAAMA (Central Australian Aboriginal Media Association), and created work for a series of exhibitions that traveled internationally.

Judith Kngwarreye’s Tharrakarre combines bush plants, reptiles and insects in a dynamic composition. Most prominent is the plume-like form of the honey grevillea (tharrkarre), a plant that produces nectar that can be sucked directly from the flower or stirred in water to make a sweet drink. Amid these brilliant orange flowers are darting lizards and snakes, along with centipedes, cicadas and head lice. All these animals fit in to the scheme of both everyday life and the Dreamtime, the time of the Ancestor Beings at the beginning of creation.

This object was featured in our Object of the Week series in a post titled The Dreamtime.

It is credited Museum purchase through bequest of Ida McNeil in memory of Lincoln C. McNeil and Catherine McNeil and from Pauline Cooper Noyes Fund.

Its dimensions are

H x W: 393.7 × 134.6 cm (12 ft. 11 in. × 53 in.)

Cite this object as

Textile, Tharrakarre, 1989; Australia; silk; H x W: 393.7 × 134.6 cm (12 ft. 11 in. × 53 in.); Museum purchase through bequest of Ida McNeil in memory of Lincoln C. McNeil and Catherine McNeil and from Pauline Cooper Noyes Fund; 1992-21-1

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<ref name=CH>{{cite web |url=https://www-6.collection.cooperhewitt.org/objects/18639791/ |title=Textile, Tharrakarre, 1989 |author=Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum |accessdate=14 April 2021 |publisher=Smithsonian Institution}}</ref>