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Napunda Marawili, Yathikpa, 85x35cm Bark
  • Napunda Marawili, Yathikpa, 85x35cm Bark
  • Napunda Marawili, Yathikpa, 85x35cm Bark
  • Napunda Marawili, Yathikpa, 85x35cm Bark
  • Napunda Marawili, Yathikpa, 85x35cm Bark
  • Napunda Marawili, Yathikpa, 85x35cm Bark
Napunda Marawili, Yathikpa, 85x35cm Bark
Napunda Marawili, Yathikpa, 85x35cm Bark
Napunda Marawili, Yathikpa, 85x35cm Bark
Napunda Marawili, Yathikpa, 85x35cm Bark
Napunda Marawili, Yathikpa, 85x35cm Bark

Napunda Marawili, Yathikpa, 85x35cm Bark

$909.00
  • Aboriginal Artist - Napunda Marawili
  • Community - Yirkala
  • Homeland - Bäniyala / Yilpara
  • Aboriginal Art Centre - Buku-Larrŋgay Mulka Centre
  • Catalogue number - 1588/19
  • Materials - Earth pigments on Stringybark
  • Size(cm) - H85 W35 D0.6  
  • Postage variants - Artwork posted flat and ready to hang with a metal mount for stability
  • Orientation - As displayed

The painting in this work depicts the saltwater country of Yathikpa where the actions of Bäru the Ancestral Crocodile and Hunters Burrak and Garramatji took place.

The connections that tie these areas together can be explained in some of the mythology of this country. After sitting under a tree and preparing rope, ancestral hunters Burrak and Garramatji went out hunting at Yathikpa in their canoe for dugong. The dugong fled to the dangerous waters around Marrtjala, the hunters harpoon striking the rock causing the Ancestral Fires to flare and boil the waters. This lead to the canoe capsizing and drowning to occur. The hunter’s paraphenalia includes their harpoon which still floats with the tides between various clan estates including the Madarrpa’s Yathikpa. This sacred object is known as Dhakandjali. The name specific to a memorial pole for this group is Dhakandjali.

The Fire had its origins at Yathikpa and was first ‘carried’ by Bäru the Ancestral Crocodile who took it to sea. Fire represents a profound knowledge that takes wisdom and courage to handle correctly. If you go there, the message reads, be prepared for danger, be prepared for confrontation with the cunning and power of the crocodile and the peril of irrational seas that can boil with fire. The waving Gamata or Seagrass in the sunlit waters is a further metaphoric reference to the subacqueous fire.


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. Pigments that were once mixed with egg yolk or orchid juice as a binder 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




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