50 x 59cm (image), 71 x 79cm (paper)
Dhambit is the daughter of two winners of the First Prize in the National Aboriginal and Torres strait Islander Art Award, Mutitjpuy Mununggurr and Gulumbu Yunupingu. Her grandfathers are Wonggu and Munggurrawuy who themselves are legendary leaders and artists. She was hit by a car in 2007 and suffered serious head injuries which were life threatening. Through her husband’s and (now deceased) mother’s persistence and her own courage she has used art to overcome the deficits caused by the accident. She also practised as an artist prior to the accident. Her art is powerful and spontaneous and founded in her deep knowledge of Yolŋu Law. Her art is not ‘disabled’ art and finds acceptance within the community and the market as an innovative vision based on real understanding of the spiritual forces of her Yolŋu country and worldview. Her esoteric knowledge of Yolŋu sacred Law is intact and she is one of the most learned of elders. She is currently in a wheelchair with restrictions on movement and speech stemming from those head injuries. She paints with her non-preferred left hand. She used art to rehabilitate herself. Painting constantly and selling or giving away art to anyone who showed an interest. She painted and sold her work from home as an independent artist for many years. She used acrylics in ochre colours to overcome the difficulty of grinding the ochres by hand which was beyond her capacity. She often painted on boards to avoid the obstacle of cutting bark. She was supported in all of this by her French partner Tony Gintz who would also cut bark for her but not enough to keep up with her prolific constant creation. As time progressed Dhambit began to include non-earth colours in her work such as green to depict trees. In 2018 she accepted an invitation from her art centre to produce a large bark for inclusion in the Aboriginal Art Award. This autobiographical piece was produced in daily sessions in the courtyard of Buku-Larrŋgay and set the pattern for the next phase of her career. The regard and attention that this piece garnered encouraged further production of large pieces and brought her to the attention of Tony Elwood of the NGV who met her in the courtyard on a visit to Yirrkala. By this stage she had settled on blue as the dominant colour for these large pieces. Elwood invited her to be a major artist in the 2020 NGV International Biennale on the spot. This work describes the time her maternal grandfather Muŋgurrawuy was surrounded by a cloud of butterflies, Bonba, whilst out in the middle of the ocean near Balaypalay. A story he told her. The assumption is that these Bonba come from Burralku. Burralku is a special place for spirit people. When a person dies the spirit goes to Burralku and lives there forever. It is connected to a dreamtime story. The spirit is a part of the Yolŋu connection between land and people. At Burralku the spirit people do the same kind of work like weaving dilly bags, collection of food, special ŋatha like: buwakul, ganguri, bawaŋ and fruits, like: gaḻurra (Mallotus nesophilus), munbi (Malaisia scandens firevine), dawu (Ficus virens banyan) and etc. When they gather the food they sit together under the big banyan tree to share their ŋatha with one another. After they have eaten they celebrate with singing and dancing. They have a big ceremony when they see a new spirit being welcomed to their land. The portal to this place is known to be near Balaypalay and it is filled with butterflies.