Your artworks
Djakaŋu Yunupiŋu, Gany'tjurr, 69x29cm Bark
  • Aboriginal Art - Djakaŋu Yunupiŋu, Gany'tjurr, 69x29cm Bark
  • Aboriginal Art - Djakaŋu Yunupiŋu, Gany'tjurr, 69x29cm Bark
  • Aboriginal Art - Djakaŋu Yunupiŋu, Gany'tjurr, 69x29cm Bark
  • Aboriginal Art - Djakaŋu Yunupiŋu, Gany'tjurr, 69x29cm Bark
Aboriginal Art - Djakaŋu Yunupiŋu, Gany'tjurr, 69x29cm Bark
Aboriginal Art - Djakaŋu Yunupiŋu, Gany'tjurr, 69x29cm Bark
Aboriginal Art - Djakaŋu Yunupiŋu, Gany'tjurr, 69x29cm Bark
Aboriginal Art - Djakaŋu Yunupiŋu, Gany'tjurr, 69x29cm Bark

Djakaŋu Yunupiŋu, Gany'tjurr, 69x29cm Bark

$469.00
  • Aboriginal Artist - Djakaŋu Yunupiŋu
  • Community - Yirkala
  • Homeland - Biranybirany
  • Aboriginal Art Centre - Buku-Larrŋgay Mulka Centre
  • Catalogue number - 488-21
  • Materials - Earth pigments on Stringybark
  • Size(cm) - H69 W29 D0.6  (irregular shape)
  • Postage variants - Artwork posted flat and ready to hang with a metal mount for stability
  • Orientation - As displayed

Wayin translates as bird. Within the spiritual law of North East Arnhem land it is accepted that the spirit of deceased people is guided to its appropriate destination by a bird from that clan.

Gany’tjurr (Reef Heron) is an archetype of Yirritja hunters. This bird is ‘sung’ by a number of Yirritja clans in the context of both salt and freshwaters.


This work is a decorative piece made from renewable wood which is usually harvested from the tree in the dry season. Preferred woods are Maḻwan (Hibiscus Tiliaceus), Gunhirr (Blind-Your-Eye-Mangrove), Wuḏuku (mangrove wood), Barraṯa (Kapok). The first activity is to enter the monsoon vine thicket and cut the wood and carry it back to the vehicle. Often a long hike through prickly vines and scrub. The wood is skinned and left to dry for a short period. It is then shaped by knife or axe.
After the surface is sanded smooth a layer of red paint is usually the first to go down. The paints used are earth pigments. The red (meku), yellow (Gaŋgul) and black (gurrŋan) are provided by rubbing rocks of these colours against a grinding stone and then adding water and PVA glue in small quantities. A new batch of paint is prepared or renewed every few minutes as it dries or is used up. After an outline of the composition is laid down the marwat or crosshatching commences. This is applied using a brush made of a few strands of straight human hair usually from a young woman or girl. The artist charges the marwat (brush) with the paint and then paints away from themselves in a straight line. Each stroke requires a fresh infusion of pigment. The last layer to be applied is almost always the white clay or gapan which is made from kaolin harvested from special sites. This also has water and glue added after being crushed into a fine powder. An alternative to painting the cross hatching is to use a razor to incise fine lines and reveal the light coloured wood underneath

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

Details currently unavailable

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




Life is better with art