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William Manakgu
William Manakgu

Gunbalanya, West Arnhem Land, Australia

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Artwork Description

Acrylic Paint on paper

Signed with a certificate of authenticity

Marlwa is the pandanus spirit who lives in the palms and forested areas of western Arnhem Land. There are many, particularly around the Coopers Creek area and they are said to feast on the raw fish they hunt in the river. It is dangerous to go to his place. If he sees you, he uses a fine needle attached to a line of string that he can shoot at you and then pull you in to his grasp. He will make you go mad and your body will become covered in hair and you are left forever wondering around the bush, lost.
Sometimes Marlwa will appear in the form of a white horse or an emu, rolling his eyes and chasing people, or stalking bush camps, circling round and round the bark huts people traditionally lived in.

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 currently unframed and requires framing.

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#spirit, #painting, #rarrk, #injalak, #pandanus
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