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Rexie Barmgardja Woods

Mimi Sprit - 2003

natural earth pigment on wood
187 x 5 x 3 cm
Price Realised: $1,300.00

MP #263


Aboriginal Fine Arts Gallery, NT
Private Collection, Vic

This sculpture is accompanied by a photo of the artist with this and two additional Mimi carvings taken in the Darwin gallery prior to sale.

Myths of men and women such as the Mimi myth, serve to delineate the roles of men and women, and the standards of behaviour.

The Mimi are long wispy spirits who live in the rocky escarpments of Arnhem Land where winds rarely penetrate. If they stray from the escarpments their necks, even though very short, are likely to snap in a breeze or their arms may blow off. According to Aboriginal lore, the Mimi were once people who inhabited the Stone Country prior to the present day Aboriginal people. They are shy, friendly spirits that are believed to have taught Aboriginal people to hunt and the laws concerning the proper dissection and dispersal of game and preparation of food.

While carvings of totemic ancestor figures were occasionally produced during the 1950s and 1960s, the burgeoning market demand for diversified product led during the 1980s to a growth in the number of corkwood sculptures depicting totemic creatures and spirit figures, including Mimi. Sculpture proved to be an ideal medium for depicting the thin and fragile, Mimi spirits that emerge from fissures in Arnhem Land rock escarpments. Crusoe Kuningbal became renowned for his Mimi figures, which ranged in height from just 50 cms to 4 metres and he was said to be the sole owner of the right to depict Mimi‘s in three-dimensional form. Yet after his death in 1984 a number of artists in Maningrida, Oenpelli and Ramingining began making these spirit ancestors that are otherwise depicted in rock art and their narrative bark paintings on canvass.