Hehi uehorëro (In her wisdom)

Lila Gama2006

National Gallery of Victoria

National Gallery of Victoria
Melbourne, Australia

Lila Warrimou is a magonahe duvahoho (women’s paramount chief) of the Omie people and a major maker of nioge (women’s barkcloth skirts), authorised to articulate the black veins and sinews of a composition and lead younger women to follow her example. She has a predilection for dark linear motifs on brown barkcloth rather than variegated infill with other colours. Her brooding compositional drawings of an almost monochrome tonality reflect her mastery of line and invention. The assured vigour of Lila’s hand, grounded in her depth of ritual knowledge and experience as an artist who is entitled to experiment and deviate from established precedent, is seen in this piece. The daring composition of three thick black lines punctuating a space bordered by two rows of diamonds, separated by a border of triangles, is startling in its concentrated aesthetic power and bold simplicity. The work is conceptual rather than figurative and has a totality of gesture and completeness that obviates the need for verbal explanation.

Text by Judith Ryan © National Gallery of Victoria, Australia


  • Title: Hehi uehorëro (In her wisdom)
  • Creator: Lila Gama
  • Date Created: 2006
  • Location Created: "Godibehi village, Oro Province", Papua New Guinea
  • Physical Dimensions: 99.0 x 82.1 cm (irreg.)
  • Type: Bark Cloth
  • Rights: National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne Gift of David Baker, 2007, © National Gallery of Victoria
  • External Link: National Gallery of Victoria
  • Medium: natural pigments on nioge (barkcloth)
  • Place Part Of: Papua New Guinea

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