This work pays homage to the gathul. The mangrove ecosystem is a massive centre of Yolŋu coastal life. Knowledge of its extensive and complex patterns is key to survival. The shellfish, crabs, fish and other foodstuffs are often hidden where only a knowledgeable eye can find them. These mangrove trees are hiding a rich harvest of Ḻatjin, a Teredo Worm (Bactrnonophorus thoracites). There are a number of varieties of these molluscs known to Yolŋu. This species is also known as Ḏomurra which can also describe all mangrove worms. This one may be eaten raw but the other two Gätji and Milka‘ must be cooked.
Yolŋu can decode the signals from the mangrove tree to estimate the location of these sweet tasting shellfish and then cut into that branch with knife or axe and extract the foodstuff.
Ironically it was the Teredo worm which protected Indigenous people from earlier depredation by European ship-farers as the wooden ships were unable to travel for sufficient distance before becoming rotted. This changed with the technology of fitting copper bottoms to the hull.
© Copyright 2019. This work and documentation is the copyright of the artist and may not be reproduced in any form without the written permission of the artist and clan concerned. Buku-Larrnggay Mulka Art Centre