Judy Manany is an accomplished artist working from Elcho Island Arts, whose work practice includes painting, carving, and weaving. She is the daughter of Mithinarri Gurruwiwi, a very well-known bark painter who she was very close to. Manany would watch and learn from him as they visited country and he painted.
‘My name is Judy Manany Gurruwiwi. My clan is Galpu and my Moiety is Dhuwa. I learnt to make art from my father who I assisted from when I was 10 years old. I collected materials for him. We made hollow logs, yidaki, bark paintings and carving. I learnt how to make my own art with my own ideas when my father passed away.
I was born in Yirrkala in 1962 and moved to Elcho Island in 1981. I make string bags, weaving, spears, hollow logs, painting, carving, yidaki and womera. All types of art. I paint my totems which are python, file snake (freshwater snake), water lilies and bidum (a type of fish). The dots in my work are Dhuwa patterns which represent the rainbow and file snake. The crosshatch patterns represent fresh water. My sister Susan also makes artwork, the same as me. She also helped our father and now she helps me make my art. My older brother lives in Darwin, and he advises me on what to paint, what I am allowed to show. I have one daughter, one son, one grandson and two granddaughters and they live with me in Galiwin’ku. My children help me collect the materials for my artwork and prepare the ochre.
I started making soft sculpture animals with pandanus in 2008. I experimented with new ways of weaving to make fish, turtles, camp dog, piggy, pussy cat, and owl. Now people really like these, and we have many exhibitions with soft sculpture and carvings’. – Judy Manany