Part 2: Important Aboriginal Art
26 November 2014


born 1946

natural earth pigments on eucalyptus bark

153.0 x 116.0 cm

inscribed verso: artist's name and Buku-Larrngay Mulka Arts cat. 3353V and 0408YIRR

$8,000 - 10,000

Buku-Larrngay Mulka Arts, Yirrkala
Vivien Anderson Gallery, Melbourne
Private collection, Melbourne

Catalogue text

This work is accompanied by a certificate of authenticity from Buku-Larrngay Mulka Arts.

Of rare size and shape, this major bark by senior Yolngu woman Dhuwarrwarr Marika, daughter of renowned clan leader and artist Mawalan Marika, refers to the time before the first morning when the Djan'kawu (a man and his two sisters) left their residence of Buralku (an island of the ancestral dead) in a canoe to follow the morning star. As they travelled they sanctifed Dhuwa land,'singing the country and splitting it up into clan estates, designating sacred law (mayayin) song, dance, totem, language to each as they went.'1 The title of the work refers to the freshwater well with sacred and special qualities found on the sandy beach at Yalangbara. Rirratjingu song cycles celebrate how the two sisters, by plunging the sacred Malawan (digging stick) into the ground at this precise spot, gave birth 'from here' to all Dhuwa clans.

The central dot to which our gaze is drawn is surrounded by ever accumulating cross-hatching of the ancestral rrark design and is the point where the sisters drove their digging stick into the sand. It also represents the fontanelle at the top of the child's skull; the point or portal through which the spirit migrates at the time of death, but also birth. The four major axial lines connecting the circle to the corners of the composition are embodiments of the Dhuwa clans.'This design, the artist informs us, "is age-old" and can be found as a segment in her brother Wandjuk Marika's contribution to the famous Yirrkala Church Panels (1962-63)'.2

1. Buku-Larrngay Mulka Arts certificate of authenticity
2. Notes from Will Stubbs, art centre coordinator, in Dhuwarrwarr Marika: Milnggurr -The Sacred Spring, 2008 exhibition caltalogue, Vivien Anderson Gallery, Melbourne