Thommo Nganjmirra

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Artwork Description

Acrylic Paint on paper

Signed with a certificate of authenticity.

Various animals and plants have totemic significance to the Kunwinjku people who live in western Arnhem Land in the ‘Top End’ of Australia. The artist has painted kunj or kangaroo, which is the largest marsupial mammal in the area. The kunj is painted in the classic Kunwinjku “x-ray” style with internal organs showing, indicating it’s regarded as game than that of totemic significance. The cross-hatching technique used for the in-fill is called rarrk and is taken from ceremonial body painting designs. Kunj are herbivorous.

When we talk about Kunj (kangaroos) we mean several different kinds of kangaroo: There is the Antilopine wallaroo - we call the male Korlobbarr or Kandakkidj, and the female Kardayh or Karurrken. The common wallaroo we call kalkberd (male) and wolerrk (female); The agile wallaby – kornobolo – we call the male warradjunkal and female merlbbe; And the black wallaroo we call Barrk or Nadjinem for the male, and Djukerre for the female. The kangaroo is an important source of food for us Aboriginal people. We go out into the bush and we hunt kangaroos in the savanna woodland. And we climb into the stone country to hunt the kangaroos that live there. Also we hunt wallabies in the monsoon forests, such as the agile wallaby.

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.


Acrylic on Arches paper

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Unframed (requires framing)

This artwork is unframed and requires framing.

Animals Art, Aboriginal Art

Thommo Nganjmirra

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