Art, The Quarter Blogged by: Casuarina Square 24 Nov 2016 View comments
Yirrikipayi (Crocodile) Design | Karina Coombes
Blogged by: Casuarina Square 24 Nov 2016 View comments
Yirrikipayi (Crocodile) Design

Yirrikipayi is a Tiwi term for ‘crocodile’ and for ‘crocodile dance’ in particular, marking the ceremonial and ancestral origins of the Yirrikipayi (Crocodile) Design for this mural. The design originates in a painting by Tiwi artist Karina Coombes and is a Dreaming belonging to her great grandmother.
Karina offered two Yirrikipayi designs for this project, each distinguished by detailed repetition of the triangle which evokes the pattern of the saltwater crocodile’s skin and its awe-inspiring teeth. The more fluid-looking design was chosen for the mural, to stretch across an ochre-coloured wall and connect the rockery to a stairwell thoroughfare.
An added layer of fluidity and scale came with the design’s rendition by aerosol artist Blair Betheras whose own designs were also proposed for this project. Over several days and nights Blair skilfully and patiently toiled in spraypaint to realise Karina’s Yirrikipayi Design. It’s an interpretation rather than a photo-exact replica, and it’s clearly faithful to the key, vibrant elements of Karina’s original design.
About the Artists
Karina Coombes, b. 1982
Yirrikipayi (Crocodile) Design, 2016
as painted by aerosol artist Blair Betheras, b. 1978
Karina Coombes is a Tiwi artist from Pirlangimpi (Garden Point) on Melville Island who works through Munupi Arts.  Her artistic career began in 2010 under the direction of her grandfather, the late Justin Puruntatameri, a revered artist and ceremonial leader whose own remarkable career as a painter was also then beginning in his late eighties.
The Yirrikipayi (Crocodile) is a strong feature of Karina’s work which includes paintings of other animals such as her totem Jarrikalani (Turtle), and Takaringa (Mullet). Karina also paints the night sky as it appears over the Tiwi Islands. This mural is Karina’s first public art commission and the first time her design has been interpreted by another artist and through spraypaint.
 (Artist and artwork-related details courtesy Munupi Arts, Pirlangimpi, Melville Island)
Blair Betheras is an aerosol artist from Melbourne who was based in Darwin during 2016. He has maintained an active street art practice since his teenage years mostly in a non-commercial context but also through commission and more portable work on Perspex for gallery exhibition. His unique graphic style generally references text and phrasing with a bold, studied sense of colour and form/abstraction.

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