Earth pigments on Stringybark
27 x 60cm
Yalanba was part of the movement to recycled materials spearheaded in the Found show at Annandale Galleries. Also he has broken down the traditional design in this work to create free floating chevrons.
A set of three rocks stand in the mouth of Trial Bay submerged either completely or partially within its waters. The waters of Gurka’wuy River flow out through Trial Bay past these rocks conflicting and clashing in a turbulent unity with the incoming tidal waters from the deep ocean. Their names rarely spoken are Dundiwuy, Bamurrungu and Yilpirr.
Yolŋu of this area speak of a hole submerged under the rocks, from where bubbles are seen rising to the surface, sometimes bursting forth with a rush. The bubbles are seen as a life force and a direct Ancestral connection for the Marrakulu. In sacred song, Bamurrungu, a sacred and monolithic rock in the mouth of Trial Bay lies submerged within its waters surrounded by these fish; Buku-Dugulmirri or Wawurritjpal, Sea Mullet.
When the Marrakulu perform ritual dance for the events depicted in this painting participants move towards a held spear representing the steadfastness of the rock, splitting the dancers who then surround the rock known as Bamurruŋu moving as does the sea to song and rhythm of yidaki and bilma.
Bamurrungu is a spiritual focus for an alliance of clans who share identity connected with the felling of the Stringybark tree. Wuyal the Ancestral Sugarbag Man while in Marrakulu clan country cut the sacred Wanambi (hollowed Stringybark tree) looking for native honey. Its falling path gouged the course for the Gurka’wuy River that has flowed ever since into Trial Bay. The hollow log’s movements in and out with the tides and currents completing the kinship connections of the various waters are the subject of ritual song and dance of this country. The Marrakulu sing these events (with other clans) during ceremony associated with the Wawalak myth. In other clan’s lands these actions were repeated.
These groups dance songs of honey flowing like rivers of freshwater from fonts deep in the saltwater under the rock. The rivers belonging to these clans; the Marrakulu, Golumala, Marrangu and Wawilak flow (spiritually) towards this rock.
This painting depicts the water clashing as it plays and mingles with that of the Djapu and Dhapuyngu clans. This Balamumu oceanic salt water rushing into the bay creates eddies, currents and patterns that delineate the relationship between the Djapu and Marrakulu clans. This relationship is referred to as Märi-Gutharra. The maternal grandmother clan and its granddaughter. These waters are in this relationship as well. This is known as the ‘backbone’. One of the key relationships in a complex kinship system whose reciprocal duties are most powerful. These clans are both Dhuwa and share responsibilities for circumcising and burying each others clan members. A matriarchal analysis of the world that governs the behaviour of both sexes equally.