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Dhambit #2 Wanambi, Guḏultja with sand from Yalanba, 111x41cm Bark
  • Aboriginal Art - Dhambit #2 Wanambi, Guḏultja With Sand From Yalanba, 111x41cm Bark
  • Aboriginal Art - Dhambit #2 Wanambi, Guḏultja With Sand From Yalanba, 111x41cm Bark
  • Aboriginal Art - Dhambit #2 Wanambi, Guḏultja With Sand From Yalanba, 111x41cm Bark
  • Aboriginal Art - Dhambit #2 Wanambi, Guḏultja With Sand From Yalanba, 111x41cm Bark
Aboriginal Art - Dhambit #2 Wanambi, Guḏultja With Sand From Yalanba, 111x41cm Bark
Aboriginal Art - Dhambit #2 Wanambi, Guḏultja With Sand From Yalanba, 111x41cm Bark
Aboriginal Art - Dhambit #2 Wanambi, Guḏultja With Sand From Yalanba, 111x41cm Bark
Aboriginal Art - Dhambit #2 Wanambi, Guḏultja With Sand From Yalanba, 111x41cm Bark

Dhambit #2 Wanambi, Guḏultja with sand from Yalanba, 111x41cm Bark

$3,199.00
  • Aboriginal Artist - Dhambit #2 Wanambi
  • Community - Yirkala
  • Homeland - Gurka'wuy
  • Aboriginal Art Centre - Buku-Larrŋgay Mulka Centre
  • Catalogue number - 2770-21
  • Materials - Earth pigments and sand on Stringybark
  • Size(cm) - H111 W41 D1 (irregular)
  • Postage variants - Artwork posted flat and ready to hang with a metal mount for stability and hanging
  • Orientation - Ready to hang as pictured but OK to hang horizontally also

A set of three rocks stand in the mouth of Trial Bay submerged either completely or partially within its waters. The waters of Gurka’wuy River flow out through Trial Bay past these rocks conflicting and clashing in a turbulent unity with the incoming tidal waters from the deep ocean. Their names rarely spoken are Dundiwuy, Bamurruŋu and Yilpirr.


Yalanba is the name of the shiny black sand that adorns this bark painting. It occurs in one spot only at Bayapula near Garthalala on Caledon Bay. The old base for Donald Thomson's NTSRU in the Second World War. Yalanba harvests it from this place because that area belongs to his clan the Marrakulu whose identity is depicted in this work. He created this work at Yilpara on Blue Mud bay.


The songs refer to Bamurruŋu, a sacred and solitary rock in Trial Bay. It is a white dome in the Bay - a round lump of granite its top coloured white by roosting birds, in the lapped by the molmulpa or white sea foam associated with turbulent and agitating waters created by particular tide and wind. The fish which swim up to Bamurruŋu are referred to as Marparrarr or milk fish, somewhat like a large mullet. These were once people of the stone country behind where the Marrakulu have now settled close the mouth of the Gurka’wuy river. They turned to Marparrarr on reaching the shore and following the feathered string to Bamurruŋu. The Beings of Marparrarr were the ‘same’ as the original inhabitants of Gurka’wuy, in this manifestation, populating Marrakulu sea country as land totems do in this area. Yolŋu of this area speak of a hole submerged under the rock, from where bubbles are seen rising to the surface, sometimes bursting forth with a rush. The bubbles are seen as a life force and a direct Ancestral connection for the Marrakulu. The Marparrarr have knowledge of this special phenomenon as do the law men. The rock is like a ‘statue’ for Mali Djuluwa Makaratjpi. When the Marrakulu perform ritual dance for the events mentioned here. Participants move towards a held spear representing the steadfastness of the rock, splitting the dancers who then surround Bamurruŋu moving as does the sea to song and rhythm of Yidaki and Bilma. Bamurrungu is seen as part of a set of three rocks which stand in the mouth of Trial Bay submerged either completely or partially within its waters. The waters of Gurka’wuy River flow out through Trial Bay past these rocks conflicting and clashing in a turbulent unity with the incoming tidal waters from the deep ocean. Their names rarely spoken are Dundiwuy, Bamurrungu and Yilpirr. In sacred song, Bamurruŋu, a sacred and monolithic rock in the mouth of Trial Bay lies submerged within its waters surrounded by these fish; BukuDuŋgulmirri or Wawurritjpal, Sea Mullet. As the Marrakulu dance they are the schools of fish. When their soul’s progress is momentarily barred by the obstacle of the rock (mortality) they act as these fish do and leave the dimension they know and leap into the air before returning to the familiar dimension of water. This mirrors the cyclical nature of Yolngu spiritual progress.

Bamurruŋu is a spiritual focus for an alliance of clans who share identity connected with the felling of the Stringybark tree. Wuyal the Ancestral Sugarbag Man while in Marrakulu clan country cut the sacred Wanambi (hollowed Stringybark tree) looking for native honey. Its falling path gouged the course for the Gurka’wuy River that has flowed ever since into Trial Bay. The hollow log’s movements in and out with the tides and currents completing the kinship connections of the various waters are the subject of ritual song and dance of this country. The Marrakulu sing these events (with other clans) during ceremony associated with the Wawalak myth. In other clan’s lands these actions were repeated. These groups dance songs of honey flowing like rivers of freshwater from fonts deep in the saltwater under the rock. The rivers belonging to these clans; the Marrakulu, Golumala, Marraŋu and Wawilak flow (spiritually) towards this rock. This work depicts the water clashing as it plays and mingles with that of the Djapu and Dhapuyŋu clans. This Balamumu oceanic salt water rushing into the bay creates eddies, currents and patterns that delineate the relationship between the Djapu and Marrakulu clans. This relationship is referred to as Märi-Gutharra. The maternal grandmother clan and its granddaughter. These waters are in this relationship as well. This is known as the ‘backbone’. One of the key relationships in a complex kinship system whose reciprocal duties are most powerful. These clans are both Dhuwa and share responsibilities for circumcising and burying each others clan members. A matriarchal analysis of the world that governs the behaviour of both sexes equally.

The hand sign for this relationship is to tap the top of one’s spine. It is the supporting skeleton of all relationships through the endless infinite line of women’s bodies. The Larrakitj had its traditional use for the Yolŋu of Northeast Arnhem Land as an ossuary or bone container erected as a memorial to a dead kinsman up to a decade after death. After death the body of the deceased was often ceremonially placed on a raised platform and left to the elements for an appropriate time. The area would then be abandoned until the next stage of the ritual. This took place once it was determined that the essential eternal spirit of the deceased had completed its cyclical journey to the spring from which it had originated and would in time return again. This might be several years. Whilst the body was ‘lying in state’ others got wind of the death, perhaps by subliminal message and made preparations to journey to the site of the mortuary. Usually, enough time had elapsed for the bones of the deceased to be naturally cleansed on the platform. The essence of the soul within the bone was made ready for final rites when other outside participants necessary for its safe journey arrived. Ritual saw the bones of the deceased placed within the termite hollowed memorial pole for final resting. Mortuary ritual would end with the placement of the Larrakitj containing the bones standing in the bush. Over time the larrakitj and its contents would return to mother earth. The Larrakitj has often been referred to as the mother’s womb. Once sedentary mission communities were established in Arnhem Land it became impractical to abandon permanent communities and outlawed to expose corpses on platforms. However, the cosmology of the Yolŋu and the essence of ritual mortuary ceremony remains just as important. Larrakitj continue to be produced as the equivalent of headstones or to contain the personal effects of a deceased (which might be dangerous unless removed from the living because of the emanations imbued by contact with the deceased). A further role for this cultural form is as a fine art object and an instructional tool for younger generations. Artworks of this nature have multiple layers of metaphor and meaning which give lessons about the connections between an individual and specific pieces of country (both land and sea), as well as the connections between various clans but also explaining the forces that act upon and within the environment and the mechanics of a spirit’s path through existence. The knowledge referred to by this imagery deepens in complexity and secrecy as a person progresses through a lifelong learning process.

In many ways, the harvesting and material production to create bark paintings is an art in itself. The bark is stripped from Eucalyptus stringybark. It is generally harvested from the tree during the wet season. Two horizontal slices and a single vertical slice are made into the tree, and the bark is carefully peeled off. The smooth inner bark is kept and placed in a fire. After firing, the bark is flattened and weighted to dry flat. Once dry, the bark becomes a rigid surface and is ready to paint upon.

Collecting Barks in Yirkala

Djawakan Marika, Yilpirr Wanambi, Wukun Wanambi and Nambatj Munu+ïgurr Harvesting stringybark for artists Photo credit: David Wickens

Harvesting barks for artists to paint in Yirkala

Wanapa Munu+ïgurr, Yilpirr Wanambi and Wukun Wanambi harvesting stringybark. Photo credit: David Wickens

Firing a bark ready for artists to paint in Yirkala

Wanapa and Nambatj Munu+ïgurr firing a bark to start the flattening process. Photo credit: David Wickens

Arnhem Land paintings are characterised by the use of fine crosshatched patterns of clan designs that carry ancestral power: the crosshatched patterns, known as rarrk in the west and miny’tji in the east, produce an optical brilliance reflecting the presence of ancestral forces.

These patterns are composed of layers of fine lines, laid onto the surface of the bark using a short-handled brush of human hair, just as they are painted onto the body for ceremony.

Aboriginal Artists, Rerrkiwaŋa Munuŋgurr painting her husbands design Gumatj fire or Gurtha.

Rerrkiwaŋa Munuŋgurr painting her husbands design Gumatj fire or Gurtha. Photo credit: Buku-Larrŋgay Mulka Centre



The artist’s palette consists of red and yellow ochres of varying intensity and hues, from flat to lustrous, as well as charcoal and white clay(pictured above). Pigments that were once mixed with natural binders such as egg yolk have, since the 1960s, been combined with water-soluble wood glues.

Naminapu Maymuru White collecting gapan white clay used for painting.

Naminapu Maymuru White collecting gapan white clay used for painting. Photo credit: Edwina Circuitt

 

Dhambit's father is Mathill and is the youngest daughter of artists. All her brothers and sisters are well known artist, ie. Wukun Wanambi, Boliny Wanambi and Barjawuy Wanambi. She does artwork like carving, bark painting and hollow logs. She spends most of her time out at Baniyala doing her artwork and is married to Malumin. She is a mother of three girls and one boy.

Buku-Larrŋgay Mulka Centre is the Indigenous community-controlled art centre of Northeast Arnhem Land. Located in Yirrkala, a small Aboriginal community on the north-eastern tip of the Top End of the Northern Territory, approximately 700km east of Darwin. Our primarily Yolŋu (Aboriginal) staff of around twenty services Yirrkala and the approximately twenty-five homeland centres in the radius of 200km.

In the 1960’s, Narritjin Maymuru set up his own beachfront gallery from which he sold art that now graces many major museums and private collections. He is counted among the art centre’s main inspirations and founders, and his picture hangs in the museum. His vision of Yolŋu-owned business to sell Yolŋu art that started with a shelter on a beach has now grown into a thriving business that exhibits and sells globally.

Buku-Larrŋgay –  “the feeling on your face as it is struck by the first rays of the sun (i.e. facing East) 

Mulka – “a sacred but public ceremony.”

In 1976, the Yolŋu artists established ‘Buku-Larrŋgay Arts’ in the old Mission health centre as an act of self-determination coinciding with the withdrawal of the Methodist Overseas Mission and the Land Rights and Homeland movements.

In 1988, a new museum was built with a Bicentenary grant and this houses a collection of works put together in the 1970s illustrating clan law and also the Message Sticks from 1935 and the Yirrkala Church Panels from 1963.

In 1996, a screen print workshop and extra gallery spaces was added to the space to provide a range of different mediums to explore. In 2007, The Mulka Project was added which houses and displays a collection of tens of thousands of historical images and films as well as creating new digital product. 

Still on the same site but in a greatly expanded premises Buku-Larrŋgay Mulka Centre now consists of two divisions; the Yirrkala Art Centre which represents Yolŋu artists exhibiting and selling contemporary art and The Mulka Project which acts as a digital production studio and archiving centre incorporating the museum.

 

Text courtesy: Buku-Larrŋgay Mulka Centre




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