Gunybi Ganambarr is a maverick. Never content to be restrained by convention, his work offers constant innovation and has redefined Yolngu art. Ganambarr is deeply respectful of protocols while expertly balancing his avant-garde approach with cultural obligation. At the heart of his practice is an exploration of country; how it is owned, how it is shared and how it is utilised.
Ganambarr’s experimental approach first came to attention in 2006 at the ‘Young Guns’ exhibition at Annandale Galleries, Sydney, and he has since challenged expectations with his choice of materials – from conventional bark and wood to chicken wire, rubber, glass, roofing insulation and galvanised iron – and how he uses them. For Ganambarr, these discarded remnants from mining and building sites align with his art centre’s policy of only employing materials derived from the land, while poignantly commenting on the changes that are wrought on country by their presence. Mining has had a major impact in north-eastern Arnhem Land and Ganambarr directly references the complexities of this in ‘Gapu’ 2017 with an old conveyer belt, an object that has expediently transported the riches of country away, intricately incised with clan designs for freshwater or Gapu. These detailed designs have been firmly attached to place since time immemorial and denote ownership of and responsibility for country, rights that have been eroded as the surface of country itself has been removed.
Ngaymil, Gangan/Yirrkala, Arnhem region
incised rubber (conveyor belt)
344.0 x 92.0 cm
Signature & date
Not signed. Not dated.
Purchased with funds provided by Rob and Jane Woods 2017
© Gunybi Ganambarr
Shown in 1 exhibition
The National 2017: New Australian Art, Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney, 30 Mar 2017–16 Jul 2017
Referenced in 1 publication
Genevieve O'Callaghan (Editor), The national 2017: new Australian art, Sydney, 2017.