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Artwork only seen from Eiffel Tower

Museum roof will have one of the world’s largest paintings – but it is only visible from above

ONE of the world’s largest artworks will be revealed in Paris today – but it will only be visible from the Eiffel Tower or jets flying in to land at Paris airports.

The Musee du Quai Branly on the banks of the Seine is revealing a massively enlarged version of a work by Australian Aboriginal artist Lena Nyadbi which will adorn the roof of the its multimedia library.

Created by stencils and with the same kind of rubberised paint used for traffic signs, the 700sq.m installation has been designed to be visible from different levels of the nearby Eiffel Tower, which draws around seven million visitors a year.

The enlarged version of Dayiwul Lirlmim (Barramundi Scales), a black and white abstract work, is 46 times bigger than the ochre and charcoal original created by Nyadbi.

It tells of a dreaming story from the Gija people of Western Australia in which three women try to catch a barramundi fish. It escapes but, in the process, it scatters its scales across Gija in the East Kimberley region ... explaining the presence of diamonds in an area that is home to the world's largest diamond mine.

Opened in 2006, the Quai Branly museum showcases non-European art and houses more than 3,000 pieces and artefacts from Oceania, including hundreds of Aboriginal weapons, boomerangs, tools and sculptures.

The museum recently hosted an exhibition of the largest collection of modern Aboriginal paintings to have gone on display outside of Australia.

"The Sources of Aborigine Painting", was a major hit, drawing 133,716 visitors over three months in which Paris was also hosting blockbuster collections of the works of Edward Hopper and Salvador Dali.

Nyadbi's work is already a permanent fixture in the museum as she created a mural, Jimbirla and Gemerre (spearheads and scarifications) that adorns one of the external walls, which can be seen from the capital's Rue de l'Universite.

Works by seven other Australian Aboriginal artists are featured on ceilings throughout the museum.

The popularity of these works inspired the museum to think about what it could do with the roof, which the building's acclaimed architect, Jean Nouvel, was reluctant to leave as a dull, monotone grey.

Alongside today’s unveiling, a parallel exhibition of eight Gija artists will be on display at the nearby Australian embassy.

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