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Ngaye ngawam nganang kunred kukimukken, kubba nakornamkuyeng karri. (I travelled a long way away, to that place with the tall tower

Luke Scholes, NATSIAA’s curator, said about her work:

“In 2019, a group of artists from the Bábbarra Women’s Centre in Maningrida, a remote Aboriginal coastal community in West Arnhem Land, travelled to Paris for an exhibition. Impressed after her visit to the Eiffel Tower, one of the group, Deborah Wurrkidj vowed to use it as inspiration. As she remembers ‘I saw that tower, and I said I’ll go back to Maningrida and I’ll make her, that tower. Yes, I can weave that tower in our way, our Aboriginal way…‘ The end result is a remarkably innovative sculpture made primarily with pandanus leaves collected around Maningrida.”

Name: Deborah Wurrkidj

Language: Kuninjku

Community: Maningrida


Deborah Wurrkidj was born in 1971 at Maningrida in north-central Arnhem Land. Her language is Kuninjku and her moiety is Duwa. Deborah is well known for her fibre weaving, bark painting, woodcarving and printmaking.

Deborah is a versatile artist who has readily adapted to new art forms while retaining strong clan traditions. Her work is tactile and intricate and illustrates the artistic innovation that has occurred in Maningrida over the last 30 years.

Alongside her highly regarded fine art practice Deborah, with her mother, Helen Lanyinwanga, and sister Jennifer Wurrkidj has been working at Bábbarra Designs since 1991. She is a leading textile artist and an integral member of Bábbarra Women’s Centre.


Deborah has exhibited nationally including the 19th Telstra National Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Art Award in 2002 and is represented in a number of state and private collections.


© the artist / art centre