paper size 76 x 52 cm Image size 76 x 52cm
This is Yilpirr’s first ever print.
Bamurruŋu is a monolithic rock standing in the mouth of Trial Bay submerged within its waters. The waters of Gurkawuy River flow out through Trial Bay past this and two more rocks conflicting and clashing in a turbulent unity with the incoming tidal waters from the deep ocean. Yolŋu of this area speak of a hole submerged under the rock, 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, Bamurruŋu, a sacred and solitary rock in the mouth of Trial Bay is a statue of ancestral spirit. 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. Bamurruŋu is a spiritual focus for an alliance of clans who share identity connected with the felling of the Stringybark tree (the special ancestral name of which is Wanambi-the artist’s surname) by ancestral being Wuyal. Wuyal the Ancestral Sugerbag Man while in Marrakulu clan country cut the sacred Wanambi (hollowed Stringybark tree) looking for native honey. One such tree was hollow, its falling path gouging 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 water clashes, plays and mingles with that of the Djapu and Dhapuŋu 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 Måri-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 behavior of both sexes equally. This piece is employing the miny’tji or sacred clan design of this mixed water known as Guḏultja. It also casts the design in turbulent confusion.