My history is alive today. My history keeps on building up. My identity is stronger. It is not dying. The more I share, the stronger I get. The more power I get. That’s why, when we put a larrakitj as a piece in a museum, it has got the power.
Source: National Museum of Australia
Wukun Wanambi is a Yolngu artist from Eastern Arnhem Land and a member of the Marrakulu clan. He works primarily using earth pigments on bark and larrakitj (which are traditional memorial poles), and also makes prints at the Buku Larrngay Print Space in Yirrkala.
Wanambi began painting in 1997 as part of a major artistic program called the ‘Saltwater Project’. The Marrakulu clan (of the Yolnu people in Arnhem Land), of which Wanambi is a member are responsible for saltwater imagery. These imagery had not been painted intensively since his father, Mithili Wanammbi who was also a painter, passed away in 1981. Wanambi drew on the knowledge of caretakers, or djunggayi (men who teach younger men their lore and how to paint designs), principally the late Yanggarriny Wunungmurra (1932-2003). This entitled Wanambi to paint saltwater designs.
He has been an extremely successful artist since he won the Best Bark Painting category at the Telstra National Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Art Awards in 1998. Five years later, he was awarded a Highly Commended at the same Awards, this time in the 3-D category.
Wanambi has gone on to establish a high-profile career, having exhibited nationally as a solo artist and his work is in most major Australian galleries, including the National Gallery of Australia, the Art Gallery of NSW and the Art Gallery of South Australia.
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