Etching, 10 x 20 cm, 2019
The artist has depicted his m;ari’s (mother’s mother) Warra Warra clan Warrabunbun dreaming. Warrabunbun, or Wepa Mokoy, inhabits Gamurrguyurra, located to the west of Milingimbi. He rises up from the ground as a mokoy (spirit) that looks after Warra Warra country. As he ascends from the earth whatharr (white clay) dots his body. The design on his body is the Warra Warra miny’tji (design) which is painted onto the chests of young Warra Warra boys during ceremonies in north-east Arnhem Land. Sometimes Warrabunbun is depicted with a broken leg, as he was speared when attempting to protect his land from invaders.
In this work he is carrying gara (hunting spear) and burllupurr (dilly bag). The vine on each side is the Yirritja yam, yukuwa.
Six months after creating this work the artist passed away suddenly at the age of 41. As described by his m;ari Susan Balbunga, he was a Clever Man. From a young age he had been entrusted with the law and ceremony of his own Yirritja moiety Wolbukarra clan, as well as that of other Yirritja clans and his mother’s Dhuwa moiety clan. He proudly carried the Rom, Manikay ga Yidaki (ceremonial law, song and digeridoo) passed to him by senior elders and was a mentor to many other young men. During ceremony his own 3 year old son followed his every move with a focus and reverence usually reserved for the mature and wise. His song and leadership are greatly missed.
In recognition of his role as senior custodian of his m;ari’s Warra Warra clan, this artwork and its associated Dreaming has been closed to public viewing. It will open again in the future when a leader of equal strength and knowledge comes of age. Until then this artwork is not for sale.
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