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Thommo Nganjmirra

Artwork Description

We use the name “Kalawan” for many kinds of goanna, who live in water, stone country or woodland. The are three kinds of goanna that live in water, we call them “burarr”( Merten's Water Monitor), “durrbu” and the small one we call “djerlih”. And the stone country goanna we call “bongka”. And there is “djanay” and another one, “bikku” (a bit smaller, same size as djerlih) that live in the woodlands. But the true “Kalawan” (Gould's Sand Goanna) we see on floodplains, woodland and on trees. In the old days we used to go to billabongs and see Kalawan (Gould's Sand Monitor) standing up on his hind legs. Sometimes we would go bush, and we would see him on a tree. And the old people would take dogs with them, the dogs would smell Kalawan and the old people would catch him. But now we don't see him. We don't see him on the trees, we don't see him crawl along the ground – never. The Cane Toad came, poisoned him, finished him off that Kalawan. But Burarr (Merten's Water Monitor), he is still there, living in the freshwater streams. We don't eat Bongka and Bikku, but maybe the old people used to eat them in the past.

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. Kluge 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.

Medium

acrylic on Arches paper

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Unframed (requires framing)

This artwork is currently unframed and requires framing.

#goanna, #west arnhem, #rarrk
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