Prints – Linocut
Image: 25 x 41cm, Paper: 46 x 61cm BFK RIVES
Barayuwa has painted his mother’s Munyuku clan’s design, inspired by her brother, the late ritual specialist and artist Ḏula Ŋurruwutthun. It is associated with the ancestral events relating to the death of the ancestral whale called Mirinyuŋu on the beaches of the Munyuku saltwater estate of Yarrinya within Blue Mud Bay.
In ancestral times, a whale called Mirinyuŋu was living in the ocean at Yarrinya. The whale, being Munyuku, was in its own country. Munyuku spirit men called Wurramala or Matjitji lived and hunted in this country. According to Yolŋu kinship classifications, the whale is the ‘brother’ of these men. They killed their brother Mirinyuŋu, who eventually washed up onto the beach, contaminating it with blood and fat turning putrid.
This is how the Wurramala found the whale on the beach. They used stone knives, Garapana. The tail severed from its body, the men then cut the body of the whale into long strips. In (self-)disgust they then threw the knives out to sea. This formed a dangerous and potent hidden reef of the same name. Within the design are the bones of the whale on the beach made sacred with the essence of Mirinyuŋu. The directions of the bands of miny’tji (sacred clan design) relate to the sacred saltwater of Yarrinya, the chop on the surface of the water and the ancestral powers emanating from it.
The whale’s tail is seen as Raŋga, sacred ceremonial object, and employed in ceremony. The bones of the whale are also said to have become a part of the rocks in the ocean. Bones are thought of as the essence of a person. From this description it is evident that the rock and the whale are combined in a spiritual manner which is extremely significant to Munyuku people. There may be some echo of a reference to a related Munyuku icon, the anchor – a symbol of rock-like foundation for the family.
In 2013 Barayuwa started to hide the elements of a whale skeleton in this style of work. A work in the NATSIAA of this year was Highly Commended by the judges and caught the eye of the Director of the NGA Ron Radford who commissioned a work. This work was made after Barayuwa’s Primavera 2014 exhibition curated by Mikala Dwyer at the MCAA. It includes knives, anchors, chains and bones within the design.