Mimi Couple Fishingby Edward Blitner
The painting depicts a Mimi Spirit couple with woven fishing basket and fish. Mimi Spirits can be found on rock formations in the Top End of Australia. Mimi Spirits are depicted as tall, thin spirits.
They are harmless, but can be quite mischievous. It is believed Mimi spirit in the Dreamtime taught Aboriginal people skills in hunting, cooking and painting.
Edward (Eddie) Taiita Blitner was born in December 1964 and comes from the Ngukkurr Community (now referred to as Yugul Mangl) in Naijarlindji Country on the Roper River. It is approximately 270km from Katherine in the Northern Territory and is in Southern Arnhem Land. His totem is Bandiyan and his Dreamings include Mimi Spirits and the Rainbow Serpent. I (Sabine Haider, Director Central Art) have been working with Eddie Taiita Blitner since 2008 and have thoroughly enjoyed working with him. Our relationship initially started over the phone however when he has visited Alice Springs he will visit the Central Art Gallery. Our Gallery hosts a unique collection of his works.
Eddie shares that he began painting and being interested in painting when he was about 7 years old. He was taught by his grandfather who would paint on bark with natural ochre. This style of painting is unique to Arnhem Land in the Top End of Australia. Eddie shared his introduction to traditional bark painting and being taught his families Dreamtime stories, “My Grandfather would be painting on bark and we kids would sit around him and watch him grind the ochre’s and mix the colours, after a while he would tell us the story for that particular painting and also teach us the songs and dance for that story. When he was in a very good mood he let us paint the sides of the bark painting that was my start” (Blitner, 1999).
Edward attended school at Concordia College in Adelaide until he was 16 years old. He sought work as a young man as a stockman and farmhand at Victoria River Downs. Interestingly, Eddie was part of the “Gurunji Walk Off” which was led by Vincent Lingiarri on 19 August 1976 protesting the rights of Indigenous station workers to receive equal wages.
It has taken Eddie some 16 years to learn to paint the stories and Dreamings which have been passed onto him. He is not a one dimensional artist; in fact he is also a skilled and accomplished wood carver. Some of his bird carvings stand 2m high and are fully decorated and cross hatched (rrarrk). He also crafts didgeridoos, flint spear heads, and traditional hunting boomerangs. He adorns these traditional hunting and ceremonial implements with traditional Aboriginal symbols and decoration. He was taught many of these skills by his clan as well as how to survive on the country – how to hunt, fish, locate bush tucker and make bush medicine. He is a senior law man for his clan. His artworks and crafts display detailed cross hatching which is his family’s body design and is sacred to his clan. He has a deep and well respected cultural knowledge which he has learnt throughout his life. He is now sharing this knowledge with others in fact he has worked with children in several schools and street children teaching them his painting skills and techniques. He was interviewed by television program Four Corners which was televised around Australia and overseas.
Eddie Blitner is a well recognised contemporary Aboriginal artist; his community has produced some skilled painters which are represented in major Australian and overseas galleries. Eddie’s two Dreamings relate to the Mimi Spirits and Rainbow Serpent. Mimi Spirits are a key feature of the majority of his works. These spirits can be found on rock formations and are most common in the Top End of the Northern Territory. They are depicted as tall thin figures. They are generally harmless however are very mischievous and can cause lots of trouble. Aboriginal people have shared that it is these Mimi Spirits who taught them their hunting and gathering skills, how to cook bush tucker and depict their culture and traditions through painting. Central Art – Aboriginal Art Store has many wonderful artworks large and small which illustrate the Mimi Spirits in various activities.
The Rainbow Serpent Spirit is a mythological being which is associated with the creation Dreamings from the Top End. The stories tell of the Rainbow Serpent inhabiting permanent water holes where is controls the water. Obviously living in the Northern Territory, water, as a resource is vital to survival.
Eddie’s works can be found is galleries in Alice Springs, Katherine and Darwin where he travels. In 1998 Edward won the Australian Aids Magazine Blue Bell and was a selected entrant of the prestigious National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Art Award which is the premier art award in Australia. His painting was exhibited in Darwin as part of that year’s collection. In 1999 he won first prize at the Barong Aboriginal Cultural Festival. He has had several exhibitions in Darwin and Sydney and in 2009 Central Art launched a solo exhibition of Eddie’s paintings titled “Rock Spirits”. This exhibition can be viewed through the exhibitions page on our website.
Edward is a talented artist and I continue to enjoy working with him, his artworks are not widely available and he has been recognised for his art by art critics and collectors. If you are looking for a painting more in keeping with traditional cave art at an affordable price Edward is certainly worth considering.
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Important copyright notice
The Copyright of all images and documentation remains with Sabine Haider. The Australian Copyright Act protects all artists from unauthorised copying by giving control over original works of art to the artist by law. However depending on the use proposed, Sabine Haider from Central Art – Aboriginal Art Store can facilitate reproduction of works with the permission of the artist as we have developed close relationships over the years with many individual painters and craftspeople.
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