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Reproduced courtesy of Dhukal Wirrpanda

Gapuwarriku at Lutumba

Date: 1998
Overall: 1580 × 800 mm
Medium: Natural pigments on bark
Credit Line: ANMM Collection Purchased with the assistance of Stephen Grant of the GrantPirrie Gallery
Object Copyright: © Dhukal Wirrpanda
Object Name: Bark painting
Object No: 00033769
Place Manufactured:Northern Territory

User Terms

    This bark painting portrays the deep water known as Gapuwarriku (Fowlers Bay) where the water is clear making it easy to spot turtles. It shows the ancestral hunters Balurruwuy and Yangamawuy as they prepare to spear a turtle that is feeding on Yathiny, floating sea anemone. In the top left corner is a representation of Nitjurra, the sacred rock surrounded by the moonfish totem Milika.
    SignificanceThis bark represents the stories of the people belonging to the Dhuwa moiety of the Dhudi-Djapu clan in the homeland of Dhuruputjpi. It was painted for the Saltwater Project by the Yol?u people of Arnhem Land to educate outsiders about their sacred stories, laws and traditional land.

    HistoryThe Yol?u people of Arnhem Land inhabit a landscape that was formed by the actions of ancestral beings, who can take both human and animal form. For instance water now flows where these creatures walked and hills have formed where they died. Ancestral time is not just in the past but also the present and future. In light of this the sacred landscape and stories of East Arnhem Land are central to the Yol?u people’s way of life and prominent themes in their bark paintings.

    The Saltwater Project began in 1996 after an illegal fishing camp was discovered at Garranali, a sacred Aboriginal site in East Arnhem Land. This sacred area is home to the ancestral crocodile Bäru and found among the litter of the illegal camp was the severed head of a crocodile. This discovery prompted the local Yol?u people to produce a series of bark paintings that expressed the rules, philosophies and stories of their region. The project culminated in the production of 80 barks and stressed the importance of Yolnu land ownership, laws and codes of behaviour for those who interacted with the landscape.

    The Yol?u have been involved in the land rights struggle since the 1960s. They currently are recognised as the traditional owners of northeast Arnhem Land under the Aboriginal Land Rights Act. This act was passed in the Northern Territory in 1976 and is seen as the benchmark in the recognition of Aboriginal land ownership in Australia. Despite this the issues of Indigenous land ownership, rights, customs and law continue to be contentious in the Australian legal system and wider community.
    Additional Titles

    Collection title: Saltwater collection

    Web title: Gapuwarriku at Lutumba

    Primary title: Gapuwarriku at Lutumba

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