Buku Larrngay Arts, NT
Cooee Art, NSW
Yukuwa is one of the personal names of the artist and Yukuwa is the topic of this work. Almost a self-portrait. It was made just after her 2012 Best Bark winning painting. This motif first arose when she had been challenged about her right to paint Buyku the fishtrap imagery of her own clan and homeland by a family member. Rather than argue she retorted by painting imagery which in one sense is her own personal identity. The complaints in relation to Buyku evaporated but Djirrirra persists with the Yukuwa imagery with the encouragement of her art centre.
This piece is a reference to Yirritja renewal ceremony which is by definition a shared communion of Yirritja moiety clans which does not relate to circumcision or mortuary rites. Spirits of deceased people are on a cyclical journey from their point of death to the reservoir of souls particular to their clan identity. But at these irregular ceremonies they all congregate for one last dance together before heading their separate ways. There are relationships between Yirritja moiety clans that are renewed through Yukuwa ceremony at particular sites which relate to the ritual exchange of sacred objects, song and dance.
Yukuwa is a yam whose annual reappearance is a metaphor for the increase and renewal of the people and their land. Traditionally the invitation to such a ceremony is presented as an object in the form of a yam with strings emanating from it with feathered flowers at the end. This is a suggestion of the kinship lines which tie groups together. The site referred to in this piece is in the area between Gangan and the sea known as Balambala described as the next river from Gangan. This is a cleared area which is an ancient ceremonial site at which special men’s ceremony involving both larrakitj (or Dhan’parr- bark
coffin) and special yidaki occurred. An ancient hero known as Burruluburrulu danced here.
It is described as a meeting place for Dhalwaŋu, top Madarrpa (Dholpuyŋu) and MunyuShare