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By Don Namundja

Gunbalanya, Western Arnhem Land, NT, Australia

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DESCRIPTION

Don has painted a Wakkewakken (Sugarbag or Native Honey Woman) from country east of the Mann River in Arnhem Land. Wakkewakken originally lived under a paperbark tree in a creek which has very cold water. This is the same place that Ngalyod (the Rainbow Serpent) sometimes resides. They left their underwater home and moved around the country gathering bush fruit which they placed in their burlbe dilly bags. Wak, the black crow, became angry that they were stealing his country so cut them in half with a stone axe. They then became mankung or sugarbag, the honey of native bees. They also left their imprint as a rock painting in the artist's Mankung Djang (Sugarbag Dreaming) country.

Kunwinjku art is part of the oldest continuous art tradition in the world. Ancestors of today’s artists have been painting the rock walls of West Arnhem Land for tens of thousands of years. The traditional palette of white, red, yellow and black comes from the ochre that naturally occurs in the region, although contemporary artists sometimes choose to paint in acrylics as well. Kunwinjku artists famously paint using either the traditional rarrk hatching technique, or the more contemporary and complex cross hatching technique which has been adapted from ceremonial painting. These lines are painted using a manyilk, which is a piece of sedge grass shaved down until only a few fibres remain.

Artists at Injalak Art Centre have been painting on Arches 640gsm handmade watercolour paper since it was introduced as a medium by American art collecter John W. Klunge in 1990 when he commissioned a suite of paintings for the Kluge-Ruhe Collection at the University of Virginia, USA. It is archival quality and has an organic texture that mimics the natural surface of bark, making it an excellent alternative in West Arnhem Land where trees suitable for bark harvesting are much sparser than other areas of the Top End of Australia.

This painting needs to be framed. It’s also being sent direct from the artist at a remote art centre, Injalak Arts, in the top end. Please note there is only one mail plane a week that takes the artwork to Gunbalanya. The tracking information is then received a week later when the mail plane returns so often the paintings are delivered before we receive the tracking information. Please expect a slightly longer wait for this very special artwork to arrive.

TAGS

ochre, paper, aboriginal, Indigenous, woman, Sugarbag