Men in Mourning from the series Ritual and Ceremony by Maree Clarke. 2011. Courtesy of the artist and Vivien Anderson Gallery

Linear Artists: Lucy Simpson

I am a Yuwaalaraay woman, a freshwater woman from north-western New South Wales and I live in Sydney. Our ngurrambaa (family lands) are up towards the Queensland border and just over. The third in a generation of three daughters on Mum’s side, I also connect to the Barwon/Namoi/Narran rivers and lakes of Dad’s. Gaawaa Miyay is a way that I describe myself, and that is River / Daughter.

I’ve always been a creative person, always been a maker. I didn’t think of myself as an artist — but Just knew I was this other thing.

I found that through making and materiality I could connect to Country, or connect to place and connect to family past experience and story. Translating and communicating layered concepts and often quite complex narratives through design creates a window to these worlds through a tactile exchange or experience.. design the conduit and making the tools.. making it really powerful in that way – bridging time, place and difference.

Yilaalu has a dual meaning.. a long time ago, and also for a long time into the future. As you get older responsibility changes, as your knowledge and your learning develop and deepen, things change. When I was a kid I would make necklacesfrom bigibila and dhinawin wiyayl (echidna quill and emu feather). That was how my grounding in Aboriginal design and notions of sustainability and exchange were founded. Once the meat was eaten, every element of that animal was used, there was no waste – honouring both the animal and the process, while also being mindful of the importance of our role in maintaining balance.

We understand that all things have dhuwi, an inner energy or essence that is carried within. After time spent visiting collected materials from Yuwaalaraay country in museums around the world, I made a decision to create things that spoke of that dhuwi to which we connect (while these cultural materials may be physically absent from their own people / place, their story and energy to which we are bound remain as strong as ever).

This work, Yilaalu Cont is a replica, it speaks of something that you can’t see, you can’t touch, you can’t feel. In honour of these stories, this work was created.