Mala Nari (Matosi)


Born: c.1958, Kavojo village (Gora), Oro Province, Papua New Guinea
Language Group: Ömie
Clan: Ematé
Lives and works: Duharenu village, Oro Province, Papua New Guinea
Medium: natural pigments on nioge (women's barkcloth skirts)



Mala’s mother was Waganami Togarino of Gora village (Saro’ore clan) and her father was A’oji Negunna of Godibehi village (Ematé clan). Mala has three children. Her husband, now passed, was Elo Nari. Mala was taught to paint Ömie designs by her grandmother and remembers watching her at Kërö village (an old village of Gora) as a young girl. Mala loved to sit with her grandmother and learn about Ömie history, the natural environment and how to nurture the land. Mala’s main designs are tuböru unö’e - eggs of the Dwarf Cassowary, dahoru’e - Ömie mountains, munë’e - river stones, buboriano’e - beaks of Blyth’s Hornbill and odunaigö’e - jungle vines. From 1996 to 2002, before the arrival of David Baker and the formation of the Ömie Artists cooperative, Mala was instrumental in bringing about a revitalisation of barkcloth painting in Jiapa and Duharenu villages. She is a very strong culture woman and is well known across Ömie territory for her powerful singing voice. Her work was exhibited in the 17th Biennale of Sydney at the Museum of Contemporary Art and in the landmark exhibition of Ömie art Wisdom of the Mountain: Art of the Ömie at the National Gallery of Victoria International.


Balai, Sana; Modjeska, Drusilla; and Ryan, Judith, Wisdom of the Mountain: Art of the Ömie, National Gallery of Victoria International, Melbourne 2009
Elliot, David [ed.], 17th Biennale of Sydney: Beauty Of Distance - Songs Of Survival In A Precarious Age, Thames & Hudson 2010
Gregory, Bill; Modjeska, Drusilla; and Mora, William, The Art of Ömie [exhibition catalogue], William Mora Galleries, Melbourne & Annandale Galleries, Sydney 2010
Gregory, Bill; and Ryan, Judith, Ömie: The Art of Ömie [exhibition catalogue], Annandale Galleries, Sydney 2009


National Gallery of Australia, Canberra
National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne