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Peter Marralwanga

Frogs - 1977

natural earth pigments on Eucalyptus bark
63.0 x 19.0 cm
Estimate Upon Request

MP #400


Gift from the artist to NT Police Officer Charlie Meneghetti in 1977
Jim Davidson Collection, Vic
Aboriginal and Pacific Art Gallery, Vic
Private Collection, Vic

Artwork 63 x 19 cm : Frame 79.5 x 35 cm

Peter Marralwanga resided for most of his life at the remote outstation of Marrkolidjban, in Western Arnhem Land. Although he moved to the nearby government settlement at Maningrida to lobby for formal recognition of his outstation in the 1960s, he soon returned to country, driven by a dislike of the effect that mining companies were having on Kunwinjku lands. David Yirawala shared Maralwanga’s desire for an outstation at Marrkolidjban as his clan lands lay in the surrounding country. The two forged a close friendship and it was under Yirawala’s tutelage that, around 1970, Maralwanga began to transfer his great ceremonial knowledge onto barks that were sold for an income that proved vital for the economic viability of their outstation.


Naturally, Marralwanga was greatly influenced by Yirawala, particularly in the use of cross-hatching or rarrk in-fill, derived from the designs of the Mardayin ceremony. Maralwanga was innovative with his rarrk techniques and empowered many of the next generation of artists, such as John Mawurndjul and his own sons Ivan Namirrkki and Samuel Namunjdja, to continue experimentation and invention in their works. However, Maralwanga differed from these younger artists, particularly Mawurndjul, who allows rarrk designs to drive his work into pure abstraction. In contrast, Marralwanga’s compositions always centred upon the figurative, to which the rarrk designs remained subservient, while altering the formal convention of the rarrk’s colour sequencing and orientation in order to illuminate, to its utmost, the flow and movement of the figure.