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MUŊURRU found metal sign etchings - by Bandarr Wirrpanda

These works from Buku-Larrnggay Mulka in Yirrkala, North East Arnhem Land, NT are part of the group exhibition 'Game, Set, Match', consisting of seven individual series of artworks by various artists - on view now at our Redfern galleries.

This series of artworks showcases a significant shift in the artistic practices of men in the North-Eastern Arnhem region. Championed by Gunybi Ganambarr, known for his innovative techniques, these works signify a departure from traditional materials. Ganambarr sought permission from Elders to incorporate discarded materials from the landscape, challenging the conventional use of natural resources. He positioned that even non-Yolngu waste, like metal and rubber left to decay in the environment, is inherently linked to the land. The approval to engrave sacred designs onto surfaces using these materials altered the customary production protocols within their community and contributed to local waste management.

This movement pays tribute to the historical Macassan trading relationships along the Northern Territory coastline, predating colonization. Macassan sailors would establish camps to harvest and process trepang (sea cucumber) for trade, staying for months before returning home. This exchange included gifting tobacco, cloth, and sharing boat and sail construction techniques with the locals. Metal objects such as knives, blades, and axes were crucial trade items, referred to locally as "Murrŋiny" or steel.

Story provided by Buku-Larrnggay Mulka Centre on behalf of the artist, Bandarr Wirrpanda:

An understanding of these works relies upon a basic outline of the Maŋgalili clan’s ‘Outside Story’, which goes as follows:

It was in the ancestral times when the Guwak men, Munuminya and Yikawaŋa, sitting under the shade of the sacred Marawili tree, instructed the ancestral koel cuckoo Guwak to lead the Maŋgalili people to a new place ... continue reading



29.5 x 21 cmm

inked and etched aluminium road sign



.... The night bird Guwak became lonely so he set out to find his friend Marrŋu, the possum, to talk to. During the day he found him in several places but Marrŋu would not talk to him because it was daylight....



29.5 x 21 cm

inked and etched aluminium road sign


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