Midawarr Suite: A collaboration between Mulkun Wirrpanda and John Wolseley.
22 April 2015
This suite of woodblocks is the outcome of collaboration between Mulkun Wirrpanda and John Wolseley. Mulkun Wirrpanda is a senior female artist for the Dhudi-Djapu clan from Dhuruputjpi. She is a a descendant of the late Dhakiyarr Wirrpanda and widow to Wakuthi Marawili, a Madarrpa clan leader who lived at Yilpara until his death in mid-2005.
She is also mother (by kinship) to senior artist and clan leader Djambawa Marawili. John Wolseley is a contemporary Australian artist whose work is represented in all major Australian public art galleries. From the Yirrkala perspective the origin point of this suite was Mulkun’s spontaneous expression of her conviction that her people are dying through their lack of attention to this knowledge.
“Mulkun has been making a comprehensive series of barks and larrakitj about the poorly recognised food plants of Northeast Arnhem Land.”
Mulkun has been making a comprehensive series of barks and larrakitj about the poorly recognised food plants of Northeast Arnhem Land. They figure plants and trees of various kinds that live in the Yirrkala region. Her mission is to renew the knowledge of these plants.
When she was young this was the food that she grew up on, and in those days old people lived for a long time without illness. It was shortly after this statement that she and Wolesley came together over this joint undertaking. Before then, in 2009, the two artists were part of Djalkiri – We are Standing on their Names – a collaborative print-based art project at Yilpara.
Later Mulkun adopted John as her wåwa or brother, and gave him the name Langgurrk. In the following years; 2012, 2013 and 2014 they have spent a week or two together in the Miwatj region in Midawarr, the harvest season, when many of the little known root foods are ripe.
The two have hunted rare plants, painted them; and eaten the unique tropical yams and tubers. Since 2009 John Wolseley has also been making drawings, woodcuts and large works on paper about the same plants and landscape.
“Innovation occurred when John sent Mulkun some slabs of ancient Huon pine. She began to carve the rare plants into the wood - which lent itself to her topic with its textural grains and nuances.”
Innovation occurred when John sent Mulkun some slabs of ancient Huon pine. She began to carve the rare plants into the wood - the nature of which with its textural grains and nuances lent itself to her topic. Later these large planks of wood where taken by John to his home studio in Victoriawhere he acted as her printmaker. All by printed by John Wolseley with Gibson & Gill Printers except Buwakul printed at Yirrkala Printspace. Handmade Stringbark Paper made by Winsome Jobling.