Mary JADBALAG, Fish fence Enlarge 1 /1


Burarra, Anbarra people

Arnhem Land, Northern Territory, Australia born 1938

Fish fence 2001 Place made: Maningrida, central Arnhem Land, Northern Territory, Australia
Materials & Technique: sculptures, fibrework, sand palm fibre, bush string

Dimensions: 107.0 h x 332.6 w cm
Acknowledgement: Purchase 2002
Accession No: NGA 2002.379

A mat in the traditional style is made for fishing usually from twined pandanus, and takes the form of a long rectangle of several metres long. This one is twined from sand palm (Livistona humilis) and bush string. Such mats are sometimes known as fish fences because they are used to enclose an area in the water, trapping fish inside their boundaries. Traditionally artists made this fence from plain pandanus (Pandanus spiralis). Today such fences are made the same way, but dyed pandanus is used to make patterns similar to the type seen on twined baskets.

(documentation from Maningrida Arts and Culture art centre)

Text © National Gallery of Australia, Canberra