A Yirrkala Cracker — 12 December 2014 to 24 January 2015


12 December 2014 to 24 January 2015
Presented by The Cross Art Projects and Buku–Larrnggay Mulka Centre

Australia is in two parts, Yirritja and Dhuwa. The Sun is Dhuwa. The Moon is Yirritja. The sulphur-crested Cockatoo is Yirritja but the Corella (an almost identical white parrot) is Dhuwa. All sharks are Dhuwa except for the Hammerhead and Banjo sharks which are Yirritja. And so on to the insects, planets and people. This is true.

Two rules that define the shape of the world are first, you are what your Dad is and, second, everyone must marry the opposite. The connection between a child and mother universe is the defining bond and identity of all life and this is why both must always be present to maintain balance. Yothu / child, Yindi / the whole. The primacy of this connection is paramount and writ large in this show. In it we have artists who paint their own and artists who paint their mother.

Yirritja artist Barrupu paints the danger and domesticity of fire in her own Yirritja moiety Gumatj clan design whilst Dhuwa artist Mulkun paints the tsunami affected floodplains of her own Dhuwa Dhudi Djapu clan. Barayuwa is a Dhuwa artist but paints his mother clan, the Yirritja moiety Munyuku clan, and the whale-imbued waters of Yarrinya in Blue Mud Bay.

This is a reality that is invisible to most non-Yolngu but one whose existence should be better known. The Cross Art Projects has consistently sought to share the contours of our continent including the geometry of Yolngu cosmology and we thank them for another cracker show.

Will Stubbs

Buku-Larrnggay Mulka Coordinator (1995-2014)


Yirkalla Yirkalla Yirkalla Yirkalla Yirkalla
Barrupu Yunupingu, Gurtha (fire), 2009, 134 x 32 cm

Barrupu, Gurtha (fire), 2009, 131 x 27 cm

Barrupu, Gurtha (fire), 2009, (#3426W), 73 x 49 cm Mulkun Wirrpanda, Yalata (#3139V), 148 x 69 cm Mulkun Wirrpanda, Walu Daykun, 2007, (#3156O), 157 x 68 cm

Mulkun Wirrpanda

Mulkun Wirrpanda is the daughter of the great Yolngu leader Dhakiyarr Wirrpanda. As the eldest and most knowledgeable for the Dhudi-Djapu clan from Dhuruputjpi, Mulkun Wirrpanda is acknowledged as a leader. Mulkun is one of the few Yolngu women to have this status. Dhakiyarr’s descendents have taken steps to restore his honour. Seventy years after his disappearance, the Wirrpanda family held a Wukidi or burial ceremony in Darwin, a ceremony to resolve a conflict between tribes that have wronged each other. A commemorative artwork was installed in the Darwin Supreme Court. Mulkun Wirrpanda paints Dhudi-djapu miny’tji (sacred clan design) that depicts her land at Dhuruputjpi. Mulkun was an early practitioner of works without figurative imagery within the miny’tji. Until recently the painting of this ‘raw’ miny’tji was restricted to ceremonial use. Mulkun paints on bark, larrakitj (memorial poles) and yidaki (didgeridoos) and is a talented carver, weaver and print maker. Mulkun Wirrpanda is widow to Wakuthi Marawili, a Madarrpa clan leader. She is also mother (by kinship) to senior artist Djambawa Marawili who chairs the Buku-Larrnggay Mulka Art Centre. These paintings depict early events during ancestral (and present) times at Yalata, close to the Dhudi-Djapu clan homeland of Dhuruputjpi (about three hours drive south-west from Yirrkala).

Barrupu Yunupingu

The late Barrupu Yunupingu came from an acclaimed art family; her sisters are the acclaimed artists Nyapanyapa and Gaymala Yunupingu. Her early life was spent with her father Munggurrawuy Yunupingu, a renowned artist, and father of two Australians of the Year (her brothers Galarrwuy and Mandawuy). She is a classificatory sister to star artist Gulumbu. Barrupu and Nyapanyapa started to paint on bark in 2007.

Barayuwa Munungurr

The youngest artist, Barayuwa Munungurr, (born in 1980, Wandawuy, NT), paints both his own Djapu clan designs as well as his mother’s Munyuku clan. His father is recently deceased, and mother is Bingitj Nurruwutthun, a sister to the late great ritual specialist and artist, Dula Nurruwutthun. Barayuwa has exhibited since 2007 and, in 2009, collaborated with Sydney-based artist Ruark Lewis in Transcriptions for the Perfect House, a multi media installation at The Cross Art Projects and Macquarie University Art Gallery. Barayuwa’s gadawulkwulk (shelter) installation featured in Primavera 2014 at the Museum of Contemporary Art.

All works earth pigments on bark or hardwood.


Yirkalla Yirkalla
Installation view, Barayuwa Munungurr
Installation view, Barayuwa Munungurr
Yirkalla Yirkalla
Installation view, Barayuwa Munungurr See Rights Flag at Blue Mud Bay.