Kieren Karritpul on expressing culture through fabric

November 16th 2020

Kieren Karritpul

  • Kieren Karritpul :: Interview with Rebekah Manibog

Backchat sits down with Ngeni’g Wummiri artist Kieren Karritpul for NAIDOC Week.

Hands are steady as they intertwine the colours of God’s country, the bush. Women sitting together. Eyes focused. A boy watching closely. He picks up his paints, same colours as the bush, and begins to spill creativity onto fabrics – telling a story on canvas.

I promise I’ll be an artist like you, mum,” he says.

Kieren Karritpul (Kar-rich-pul), 26, is a Ngeni’g Wummiri Artist, who utilises a variety of mediums to convey stories and ideas inspired by his upbringing in Nauiyu, Daly River in the Northern Territory.

Inspired by his mother and grandmother’s weaving styles, motions of nature, stories and his totems, Karritpul creates beautiful artworks utilising fabric, ceramics, silk painting and painting. 

Just last month, Kieren won the Textile Design Award in the 2020 National Indigenous Fashion Awards (NIFA), for a collection of designs on fabric. Some of these fabrics such as “Mermaid”. 

“I was being told all these stories about mermaids from my old people. And they’ve been telling me about stories about mermaids who lived in little creeks or in billabongs or in the river around where I stay today.”

Kieren KarritpulImage credit: Merrepean Arts centre

Kieren also mentions that stars are a big part of his paintings and subject matter due to its significance. Stars are Kieren’s totem. 

“We see a lot of stars. And we know that we are safe. And we are going out hunting and when we come, during at night we know the stars are guiding us home and showing us the way to get home…But when I am down south, I look up and I do not see a lot of stars in the clear sky…my body and my spirit inside of me tells me that I am lost. I don’t know where I am. And I don’t know if the stars are still guiding me. I don’t feel the connection when I’m in big cities, only when I am out in the bush where I live.”

Listen to Kieren’s full interview above, and discover how he blossomed into an artist – keeping his promise.

This interview featured on Backchat with Shami Sivasubramanian and Chantelle Al-Khouri on 14/11/20 during NAIDOC Week. 

You can check out more of Kieren’s work here.