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Lena Nyadbi with Harold Mitchell, whose foundation has made the Paris commission happen

An indigenous Australian painting representing the shimmering scales of the barramundi fish is being transferred on to the 700 sq. m rooftop of the Musée du Quai Branly in Paris. The seven million people who every year ascend the nearby Eiffel Tower will be able to see the work, which is due to be unveiled on 6 June.

The original painting, Dayiwul Lirlmim (barramundi scales), was painted last year by Lena Nyadbi, a Gija woman whose ancestral country extends in a 100km radius from the tiny Western Australian settlement of Warmun. “It’s the first time a museum has commissioned a piece that will not be visible from the museum,” said Stéphane Martin, the president of Musée du Quai Branly, on 29 April, when the project was formally announced at the National Gallery of Australia in Canberra. “You have to be outside the museum to appreciate it,” he said.

The Paris museum dispatched senior staff to Warmun to work with Nyadbi on selecting a section of Dayiwul Lirlmim to be transferred to the rooftop with the use of digitised stencils.

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Elizabeth Fortescue
The Art Newspaper

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