News & events > See Australia from the Paris rooftops
23 Jun 2013

See Australia from the Paris rooftops



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 was unveiled in early June.

As reported in The Art Newspaper, 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.

The original painting was done with natural ochres and charcoal, but rubberised paints are being used on the rooftop version. The painting will be a permanent fixture and will be repainted as often as necessary, probably every 15 years, Martin said. Those not fortunate enough to be in Paris will be able to see the work via a webcam on the Eiffel Tower, or on Google Earth, he added.

The A$500,000 ($489,000) project was paid for by the Harold Mitchell Foundation, founded by Harold Mitchell, the media buyer and former chairman of the National Gallery of Australia. The Australia Council for the Arts and the National Gallery of Australia have also been important players in realising the project, together with the  Musée du Quai Branly.