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© Dorothy Djukulul/ Licensed by Viscopy, 2017

North East Wind, bari gwynan (saltwater crocodile) and karritjar (water python)

Date: before 1991
Overall: 1570 x 855 mm, 6.5 kg
Display Dimensions: 1570 x 850 mm, 5 mm, 6500 kg
Medium: Eucalyptus bark, ochres
Credit Line: ANMM Collection
Object Copyright: © Dorothy Djukulul
Object Name: Bark painting
Object No: 00009040
Place Manufactured:Dilebang

User Terms

    A bark painting of the north-east wind, baru (the saltwater crocodile) gwynan and karritjar (water python), by Dorothy Djukulul, of the Ganalbingu language group, Gurrumba Gurrumba clan, Yirritja moiety, Arnhem Land, Australia.

    The rectangular shaped piece of eucalyptus bark features red, mustard and white ochres. The image is divided into two sections, the top half is a design of the north east wind, comprised of columns of chevrons, and crosshatched columns; while the lower image depicts two long-necked tortoises (minhala), two water pythons (karritjar), six saltwater crocodiles (baru), and five leaves on a crosshatched background.
    SignificanceThis painting is typical of Dorothy Djukulul's work. She usually paints the totemic planys and animals of her clan with additional mythological information.
    HistoryPainted on eucalyptus bark titled and divided into two halves. The top half is a design of the north east wind. Below that are marine food animal such as turtles, water python and fish as well as a large crocodile.

    In tropical North eastern Arnhem land, the north east wind Lung'kumma, brings the first of the wet season rains.This is an important time. It is Yirritjarain (Dorothy's moiety), brought into being by the Rainbow serpent, the crocodile, turtle, whale and dog spirit and is represented by the inverted 'V' pattern.

    The bottom half of the painting is the Arafura Swamp, the home of the Ganalbingu people, Dorothy's land. In this unique freshwater environment live an abundance of fish, insects,crocodile and waterbirds.The Ganalbingu peoples 'tribal' name Gurramba Gurramba literally means a flock of geese, referring to the thousands of magpie geese that inhabit the swamp.

    The Arafura Swamp is also the home of the Crocodile spirit. It was he who discovered how to make fire with firesticks, burning himself in the process.The scars that mark his back from his burning can be seen in the painting. He also made the two large hills in the swamp.The Saltwater crocodiles migrate to the swamp to mate and build nests during the time of the north east winds, just as the first spirit people did.

    The swamp is also a dreaming site of the tortoise, who buries itself in the waterholes to hibernate. When the winds begin they awake and pop out of the ground almost like magic.

    This painting is typical of Djukulul's work. Her art is characterized by excellent draughtsmanship, curved flowing lines and close intertwining forms.The motifs create an altogether curviliner pattern on a plain background of red ochre. She usually paints the totemic plans and animals of her clan with additional mythological information.

    All along the coast of central Arnhem Land it is tropical and lush. In the dry season people travel great distances hunting and gathering food, where as in the wet, the rivers swell and flow across the plains forming vast swamps. Small family groups gather to join outstations that may have up to 150 people. The camps are made close to rivers, lagoons and swamps on land that, through mythology is owned by the
    residence. It is at this time when large groups gather, food is abundant and the bark is easy to obtain that painting are done.

    Women were traditionally excluded from participating in art production which occurred principally in the ritual contexts. Although managers and owners of clan stories and designs, they were not expected to use them in the same way as men.

    By the1970s this situation was changing. George Milpurrurru has written about how he and his sister, Dorothy Djukululwere both taught to paint by their father Ngulmarmar, their uncle Gomindju and second father Lululna.

    Though it is common for women to paint in some areas of Australia, in central Arnhem Land it is still unusual and those who do can only paint their husbands or fathers stories. John Mundine, the arts advisor to the area comments that her 'style has an inner strength which underlies the power of her own character and has enabled her to continue
    to paint through the years despite social pressure often exerted on her to keep her in her place'. Earlier this year, a well known male artists aid with a chuckle while viewing the paintings for the exhibition 'that Djukulul, she paints just like a man'.
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