Ivy Laidlaw is an Aboriginal artist and is a highly regarded sculptor, weaver, storyteller and painter, Whilst one of the founding members of the Irrunytju Arts, Ivy continued developing her own art practices. Ivy has also been involved in supporting and educating other artists in the community in weaving, including where and how to use traditional dyes and resins, and how to make and use traditional Aboriginal medicines.
When Ivy was young her mother was ill, so she spent much of her early life at the Christian Mission in Warburton. As she grew older, Ivy spent time in both her home country – Irrunytju – and back in the Mission, where she learned English, bible stories and hymns. Ivy also worked in the Mission bakery and clinic and married Patju Presley (whom she knew from the Mission).
Tjurkpa – Dreaming. The Eagle and His Two Wives, the Cockatoo and the Crow
One Tjurkpa describes why the Crow is black. It comes from the country near Wannan, north west of Irrunjytju in the Gibson Desert.
The eagle had two wives. His first and favourite wife was a white cockatoo; his second wife was a brown crow. The eagle favoured his first wife and gave her the best cut of kuka – meat. The second wife was jealous.
One day when the two wives went to collect water together, they had a huge fight, hitting one another with their wana – digging sticks. The crow hit the white cockatoo so hard on the head it killed her. When crow went back to the camp the eagle asked her where his first wife was. Crow said ‘Good news, the cockatoo has gone to the Womens’ Business camp to give birth’.
Eagle was delighted. That night he gave crow the best cut of malu. Each day eagle would ask after his first wife. Crow would respond by telling him how well the birthing process was going and Eagle would give her malu and other delicacies. After several days, crow told the eagle that cockatoo had given birth to a son, who looked just like him, the Eagle. Eagle was anxious to see his first wife, but knew that the mother and baby had to be smoked and go through Womens Business before returning to the camp. Many days passed and crow continued to tell her husband how well the baby boy was growing, how strong and healthy. Eventually Eagle wanted to know what was keeping his wife so long, and to see his son. He walked around to where the secret Womens Business took place, looking for his first wife. In the tali – sand dunes – he saw the tracks of his two wives and found the remains of cockatoo and realized that crow had been lying to him about everything.
That night, crow again told him how well cockatoo and his new baby son was. Eagle listened quietly and gave crow the best pieces of kaku. He told her that tomorrow they were going somewhere special. The next day they walked and walked. Crow began complaining. Eagle encouraged her on, and into a very dark, narrow cave. Down they went and when they got to the bottom of the cave, Eagle rushed out. He blocked the entrance with firewood and made a huge fire. The fire raged. Crow screamed and screamed. Moments later, crow flew out of the flames as black as charcoal.