Nirriwan at Baygita
Etching, 20 x 10 cm, 2019
Whilst traveling towards the sunset the Djan’kawu Sisters hear dhurubarrpa (the rumbling of water). Feeling curious they walk towards the sound until they arrive at Baygita, a beach on the western side of Rapuma Island. At Baygita they stop and collect nirriwan (oysters). After enjoying a feed they fall asleep on the beach and wake up thirsty. Using their dhorna (digging sticks) they pierce the earth in search of drinking water. Each time they strike the earth they are surprised that the water is brackish (salty). To this day Baygita only has salty water. Despite the lack of fresh water the artists family lived and thrived at Baygita for many generations. In this work the nirriwan are depicted on the left side, and the footsteps of the Djan’kawu on the right.
The rumberling sound heard by the sisters came from Gapirra. Gapirra is the name of several sites where the Yirritja ga Dhuwa (two sides of Yolŋu moiety) Walamaŋu, Gorriyindi and Gamalanga gapu (water) come together and apart to create different currents depending on the movement of the tides. Gapirra are sacred sites.
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