Skip to content


Mick Daypurryun

(Australia 1929 – Nov 1994)

Language group
Liyagalawumirr, Arnhem region
Place of origin
Elcho IslandNorthern TerritoryAustralia
Cultural origin
Gandungu/ Liyagawumirr
circa 1992
Media category
Bark painting
Materials used
natural pigments on bark

136.0 x 50.0 cm

Signature & date
Not signed. Not dated.
Purchased with funds provided by the Aboriginal Collection Benefactors' Group 2013
Accession number
© Estate of the artist
Yiribana Gallery
Further information

Mick Daypurryun is an exceptional bark painter from Galiwinj'ku (Elcho Island) who was painting predominantly in the late 1980s and early 1990s. This work is drawn from the height of his career and is painted in the strong geometric style for which he is recognised. The work refers to the Gandungu and Liyagawumirr clans and the separation between the yirritja and dhuwa moieties.

The right of the work represents the Gandungu clan (dhuwa) while the Liyagawumirr clan (yirritja) is on the left. These clans are separated by a central channel of water in which local vegetation - mangrove leaves and fruit - is depicted. The delicate crosshatching underling this vegetation suggests the sea foam which the leaves float upon.

The Liyagawumirr clan or dhuwa moiety panel on the right contains five waterholes. The two red crosshatched waterholes represent fresh water mixed with ratjpa (red ochre). The triangle shapes around them represent different kinds of water. The white crosshatched triangle represents freshwater, the yellow crosshatched triangle represents water mixed with sea sand, and the red crosshatched triangle represents fresh water mixed with ratjpa. The white marks on the the lines connecting the waterholes are the footprints of the sand crab.

The left panel of this work represents the yirritja clan, through the rhythmic repetition of a diamond design, depicting mangrove worms in implicit detail. In the lower section this design is rendered in white representing the empty shells where the mangrove worms once lived. This colour coded language demonstrates the artist's implicit and intimate knowledge of his country.

Exhibition history (1)

Our spirits lie in the water, 15 Nov 2014–01 Nov 2015