Paper Size: 84cm x 59cm; Image Size: 84cm x 59cm; Paper: Hahnemuhle
Ŋäḏi ga Guṉdirr
In this work she has continued with the concept of symbioses and in this case eusociality. She has depicted the relationship between munyukuluŋu Magnetic termites Amitermes meridionalis, or compass termite, a species of eusocial insect in the family Termitidae. It is endemic to northern Australia and the common names derive from the fact that the wedge-shaped mound is aligned with its main axis running north and south and ŋäḏi, Northern Meat Ants, Iridomyrmex sanguineus.
Mulkuṉ painted these idiosyncratic termite mounds inhabited not by their makers but by their symbiotic partners the meat ant. This is an example of empirical observational Yolŋu knowledge. She depicts this as common knowledge but an internet search reveals this to be scientific esoterica. When the harvest time comes it is common for women to gather large numbers of yams and to create a guṉdirr (ground oven) which is named after the fragments of termite mounds which would be placed on top of the large fire in a pit to retain the heat once it is covered with paperbark. This is the source of her knowledge.
This work was printed by Sean Smith at his Melbourne studio but the edition was completed only after her death. It has been signed on the artist’s behalf by her younger sister and fellow artist Muluymuluy Wirrpanda.