Located at Yirrkala in north-East Arnhem Land, Buku Larrnggay Mulka has maintained its status as a leader in contemporary art for decades. Dating back beyond the Bark Petition, Yirrkala Church Panels and Saltwater Collection, Yirrkala artists continue an artistic legacy that extends over tens of thousands of years. More recently artists have embraced the classical beauty of bark painting alongside stylistic and personal innovations.
Historically, Yolngu (Aboriginal people) passed on their creation stories and knowledge of country, through song, dance, ceremony and art. Clan designs called miny’tji represent the acts of the Wangarr (ancestral beings) and the laws they created. These designs are painted onto objects such as the larrakitj (ceremonial hollow log) and bark panels, using the fine hairbrush, marwat. Through the act of reproducing miny’tji, Yolngu are linked to their ancestors and reaffirm their identity and association with country.
Miny’tji designs are often geometric in style incorporating diamonds, triangles and lines. Each design relates to a story associated with particular clan groups and their Ancestral beings. Clan designs are part of the intellectual property rights of the clan and only those people with the rights to certain designs are allowed to paint them. In this way they can be seen as title deeds to country.
Ref: Balnhndhurr – A Lasting Impression – An Artback NT Touring Exhibition 2017-2019, Education Kit, Teachers Notes
View works on the online gallery