The Guardian - Fri Aug 5 20:00
’This is a Makassan dhomala (sail). Yolngu people were watching Makassan people weaving their dhomala over time ... then they started to make them. My father picked up the skill as well. He used to make them, Makassan dhomala. I was watching my father making these dhomala. He was making them, and I was watching. I thought about how he made them, my father, and I started remembering. And now I’m making these.’
Photograph: Mark Sherwood/Margaret Rarru Garrawurra /Milingimbi Art and Culture.
‘My paintings are about ngangkari and sites related to healing. Ngangkari are traditional healers / healing practices. I’ve painted rock holes and the water flowing through the landscape, just like the energy that flows through people and places – it’s invisible to most people, but ngangkari can see spirits and feel a lot of different energy.’
Photograph: Mark Sherwood/Betty Muffler / Iwantja Arts.
Nagi (Larrakia for ‘maternal grandfather’) is a portrait of Juan (John) Roque Cubillo (1906–1942), who was killed during the first bombing raid on Darwin, 19 February 1942. John Cubillo was a good father and provider and by all accounts was well liked. He wore a grey felt hat to which he would attach small gardenias with a sweet scent. This portrait is a timeless remembrance and salute to Johnny.
Photograph: Mark Sherwood/Gary Philip Lee
‘What has gone before runs through the land, sea and sky. The lines that connect us with stories are solid yet changing. Beyond these lines, we make pathways for tomorrow. The sea currents pass through me as blood pulses through my veins. My skin is the landscape from which I am moulded and as I watch my totem fly through the air I cannot separate myself from my islands, family, our tribes, my culture.’
Photograph: Jimmy John Thaiday / Erub Art
‘These are my granddaughters swimming around the rock Yunupingu just like I used to do. This is our family rock. Our foundation. Mermaids are special to me because this is how my unborn spirit announced itself to my father.’
Photograph: Mark Sherwood/Museum and Art Gallery of the Northern Territory
Louise Malarvie brings her Country to life as she interprets seasonal floodwaters transforming vast areas of her homeland in the Great Sandy Desert between Paraku and Balgo. Her fine ochre dotting suggests a play of light, colour and movement representative of the sun glistening on the rocks, and pebbles smoothed over and shifted from the large movement of floodwater. Her painterly meditation explores feelings of connectedness, healing and spiritual longing for her Country.
‘We go and get pandanus and jungle vine, sedge grass for fish traps. We’re going to try to get kids from Maningrida to come along because they don’t know. We’ll try to teach them and then they’ll have that knowledge. This fish trap is special to us; it’s really really special, especially for young kids to learn.’ – Freda Ali
Photograph: Mark Sherwood/Bonnie Burangarra/Freda Ali Wayartja/Arts & Culture
‘Yalma, rather than a weapon, is ceremonial. Country is not just nature, for Bama [people] it is home. Bama never knew of pity and regret, only to be grounded and to be consumed by lore, to lay foundation and to maintain survival of a pure race, with concepts and ways that must be respected by those who come later.’ The subject in the image is songline custodian David Mundraby, an Elder of the Yidinji Mandingalbay and keeper of the Law and Song. He holds Yalma to signify that culture is his religion and Yalma is his cross.
Photograph: Mark Sherwood/Simone Maree Arnol
‘Virus Man is a bad guy, a villain; he wants to try and destroy the world by making everyone sick. He goes up people’s noses ... When the virus goes inside, it kills. When virus goes in the body, it spreads through whole body, it knocks him down, dead ... The virus man, he destroys a lot of people around the world. It happened in 2020, when it spread like that.’
Photograph: Mark Sherwood/Ray Mudjandi/Marrawuddi Arts & Culture.
This painting is a collaboration between senior men and highly regarded Elders and cultural leaders Alec Baker and Kunmanara Mungkuri, together with younger man Eric Barney. It is a strong declaration of the artists’ Yankunytjatjara cultural heritage, and they each represent Ngura (Country) that holds significance for them. ‘Painting [collaboratively] like this is one way that we teach our younger people; by sitting down painting together, talking and singing our stories.’ – Alec Baker
Ancestors of Barayuwa Mununggurr’s clan killed their brother, the Whale Mirinyungu, and butchered it. They threw their stone knives into the sea and these became the reef Garapana. The Octopus Ngarrpiya guards the reef. Within this design are the knives, limbs and bones of the whale on the beach made sacred with the essence of Mirinyungu.
Photograph: Mark Sherwood/Barayuwa Mununggurr/Larrnggay Mulka.
‘My cousin’s brother used to make birds; Roy’s dad used to make the Jabiru bird. Then Harold got the idea of doing cockatoo. The black cockatoo plays an important role in Tiwi ceremony ... Harold has to look at the tree first to see if it’s strong enough [for carving] – you can tell when that stringy bark peels off. Then you can see if it’s right to cut it and do carving.’