Yengi Kerri – Fire Bird by Helen McCarthy Tyalmuty

Yengi Kerre Fire Bird
Yengi Kerre - Fire Bird - Helen McCarthy Tyalmuty

Yengi Kerre - Fire Bird is a very special painting by a very special artist. It is a painting we sold quite a few years ago that has come back to us for resale as the owner is downsizing. It is painted by an incredibly distinctive and talented artist called Helen McCarthy Tyalmuty. She's from Daly River to the south of Darwin. We had a major exhibition by her many years ago, and she's unlike any other indigenous artist I know. She doesn't paint the same style over and over again, she's not afraid to experiment. But she is an innate artist, and has a great sense of colour and composition. Her works have sold for over $80,000 on the primary market.

Helen paints stories to do with her country and things that she was brought up and taught. This one relates to the Fire Bird Dreaming, and it's a story that goes across quite a lot of Australia. It's the story of the black cockatoos who, according to legend, were once multicoloured, vibrant birds but at some point they became, pardon the pun, cocky, and they got their come-uppance and the brightly coloured vain cockatoo caught fire and flew across the country on fire. That's why it's now all black, because it's burnt, except for under its tail, which is still red and that's because the fire still burns there. And this is that story translated into an artwork.

Helen McCartht Tyalmuty is one of the most underrated of Australian Aboriginal artists, but she is one of the great artists. She's won many art awards. I consider Helen a friend, we've known her for many years.

This painting is now available and they're like hen's teeth, it is very hard to find Helen's work at the moment, and she's not producing many new works. I wish we could have another whole show. She's one of my favourite artists so it's a privilege to have it back in the gallery.

View: Helen McCarthy Tyalmuty Artist Profile