Published in Art Collector, Issue 68, Apr-Jun 2014
Working primarily with barks, larrakitj (ceremonial poles) and yidaki (didgeridoos), Barayuwa Mununggurr paints his mother’s Munyuku clan design. At its heart is a story about the hunting of an ancestral whale in Blue Mud Bay. When the dead whale washed up on the sand its rotting flesh was carved into strips with stone knives and then tossed back into the sea, forming a dangerous reef. The whale’s bones became rocks in the ocean.
Mununggurr’s work appears to capture the point when the strips of whale flesh become the living rhythms of the reef, and also speaks to the way that landforms have accrued significant spiritual and cosmological meaning in Yolngu culture. Bones too are thought of as the essence of a being and in 2013 Mununggurr began to hide the elements of a whale skeleton in his work. Five whale skeletons formed the underlying structure of his entry in last year’s National Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Art Award. The work was highly commended by the judges and was later acquired by the Museum and Art Gallery of the Northern Territory. His work has also been acquired by the National Gallery of Australia.
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