Currants, Graham Badari. Region: Arnhem Land
(Echidna) Ngarrbek is the Kunwinjku word for echidna, the small mammal known as spiny ant eater which is indigenous to Australia. Echidnas are one of only two species of monotremes in the world – a mammal that lays eggs. The other is the platypus. Echidnas eat ants and termites and despite such an unappealing diet have tasty flesh and are highly prized as bush tucker.
Kunwinjku people believe ancestral beings travelled through the country creating landmarks and places in which they continue to dwell, known as Djang (Dreaming). Accordingly the Kunwinjku people maintain a profound and ancient visual tradition. Paintings on rock, bark and (more recently) prints connect with ancient rituals, stories and spiritual associations. Rendered simply and directly onto steel plate these etchings narrate the soul and spirit of the Stone Country and its inhabitants.
Source: Nomad Art
Minnie Pwerle was born around 1922 in the Utopia country of Atnwengerrp and died 18th March 2006. Her languages were Anmatyerre and Alyawarre.
Minnie Pwerle’s emergence and dominance in the world of mainstream art has been compared to the legendary Emily Kame Kngwarreye, who like Minnie, began her painting career in her mid seventies and continued to paint with an energy that belied her age. The power of Minnie’s work is in the bold, expressive simplicity of her linear style which depicts Awelye Atnwengerrp, traditional women’s ceremonies. Her mesmerizing lines and circles convey painted breast designs and dance tracks around camp fires, whilst the smaller tighter circles often seen in her work represent bush melon, one of Minnie’s principal Dreamings. Her canvas’ sing with Indigenous wisdom and a contemporary verve and express clearly the strong connection she enjoyed to both her country and her culture.
Minnie Pwerle exhibited her works extensively throughout Australia and the world with great success. She is regarded as one of Utopia’s foremost artists, with her paintings in continual and constant demand from galleries and private collectors.
Source: Dacou Australia
Ngalyod, the Rainbow Serpent is regarded as a most important ancestor spirit in western Arnhem Land and appears in various manifestations in Kunwinjku mythology. In the Dreamtime she assumed a range of animal forms including snake, kangaroo and crocodile and at times transformed her self from one to the other, or into a combination of each. It is believed that as a serpent she tunnels underground using barbed extensions from her head and the bony protuberance from her neck as aids. It is believed that Ngalyod dwells in various billabongs (lagoons) in Arnhem Land today, sometimes swallowing binninj (the Kunwinjku term for Aboriginal person) as punishment when they break traditional laws. Ngalyod is painted by many Kunwinjku artists, according to each artist’s own imagination and mythological background. She is often depicted with the leaves of the mandem (water lily) protruding from her back.
Apau Gab (linocut) by David Bosun
Story: The Maluligal (Western Torres Strait Islands) are less fertile than other parts of the region. Each of the well structered societies in the Maluligal had its own way of foretelling the changing of the seasons. To cultivate their garden successfully our ancestors had an understanding of nature and its signs, which told them when to start planting their crops.
Source: Aboriginal Art Prints
Arnhem Land. Medium: Etching & Screenprint
Bardayal ‘Lofty’ Nadjamerrek AO, (deceased) was custodian for country of the upper Mann and Liverpool Rivers in western Arnhem Land, and was revered for his encyclopedic knowledge of the region. Bardayal lived in the heart of Ankung Kunred or sugarbag (native bee honey) country, where he was born and walked while growing up. Through his paintings he brought to life stories of ancestral beings and the fauna and flora of his country. ‘I am looking after this place, this my dreaming place put here by the earliest ancestors, the old people a long time ago, maybe by Djingalawarrewoni or by God … My ancestors gave me this place and I myself have a longing for this country.’
New Tracks (linocut), Shane Gorry.
Story: This work is about the environmental damage done by European animals when they came to Australia. It's also about Aboriginal people leaving behind the traditional hunting tracks and following the tracks of the cattle trade. Although, in many cases, indigenous people left behind their culture and traditions to follow a new way, this still reflects the basics of the culture's survival and adaptation.