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Contemporary art

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander art

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Title

Baratjala - lightning and the rock

2018


Artist

Noŋgirrŋa Marawili

Australia

circa 1939 -

Language group

Madarrpa, Arnhem region


About

The art centre documentation for this work states;

“Some of the designs show the rock set in deep water between the electric ‘curse’ that the snake spits into the sky in the form of lightning, and the spray of the sea trying to shift the immovable rock foundation of the Madarrpa. Yurr’yunna is the word used to describe the rough waves overtopping the rock and the spray flying into the sky. It is said that the serpents ‘spit’ lightning - ‘guykthun’. The extended meaning of ‘guykthun' though includes “make something sacred or taboo through saying ‘magic words’. In our language we ‘swear’ an ‘oath’ which sanctifies the speech but both words can also mean to utter profanities. We also understand that ‘curse’ can mean bad language but also a spell. The Top End has one of the world’s greatest number of lightning strikes at this time of year. These works show the sanctifying words being spat across the sky in lightning form. The lightning’s sacred power hits the sea spray rising from where it has just smashed into the rock. The energies captured in this painting are almost a match for those in the real life of a Top End wet season.
This journey from the sacred to the descriptive shifts in this work. She has reduced the Law to its elements unclothed in sacred design. Her identity cannot be separated from her art and so although she disavows any sacred intent the echo of miny’tji persists.”


Details


Date

2018


Media category

Bark painting


Materials used

natural pigments on bark


Dimensions

201.0 x 85.0 cm


Credit

Purchased with funds provided by the Aboriginal Collection Benefactors tour to Arnhem Land 2018


Accession number

303.2018


Artist information

Noŋgirrŋa Marawili

Works in the collection

25


Place

Where the work was made
Yirrkala

Shown in 1 exhibition

Exhibition history