John Mandjuwi Gurruwiwi’s natural ochre painting ‘Wurrkadi & Maranydjalk’ from North East Arnhem Land. Palya Art C-0290

Artist: John Mandjuwi Gurruwiwi
Area: North Northern Territory – Eastern Arnhem Land.
Artwork: Painting
Title: ‘Wurrkadi & Maranydjalk’
Date: 1997
Medium: Natural ochre pigments on canvas
Size: 1790 x 1210 mm
Elcho Island Art & Craft
Palya Art C-2840
Price: AUD $15,000.00


John Mandjuwi Gurruwiwi was born Circa 1934. His Homeland ‘Gika’ is situated on a mangrove beach facing North across the Nalawarung Straits in far North Northern Territory – Eastern Arnhem Land. He also lived on Elcho Island with family. He said of his painting “This is my totem and I am part of Galpu Clan. The painting is about the Wurrkadi. The Wurrkadi come out from the ground because they smell the yams and eat it. The Birrtji Gundirr, the dots along the straight lines, represent the hills and the edible clay”. Source: Elcho Island Arts & Craft 1997.

Gurruwiwi died in 2000. His Skin Group was Gawurr, language Dhangu and the spiritual themes related to Mr. Mandjuwi were:

Wititj – The oldest human religious myth, the Rainbow Serpent which is key to Galpu identity. Its prism of colour in sinuous form summons the power of tempest and the shimmer of wet leaves.

Bol’ngu – In common with all Dhuwa clans, is a patch of dedicated rainforest which generates the cloud and merges with others to form Thunderman the embodiment of the monsoon cloud mass.

Banumbirr – The Morning Star (Venus) connecting Buralku – the island of the Dead with The Two Sisters with Wurrkadi, (pictured in the painting) larvae of the Horned beetle.

Mithinarri (1929-1976) is one of the Yirrkala Church Panel artists whose work has been sought after in the secondary market. His daughter Djul’tjul paints from Gurrumurru. Djalu Gurruwiwi has attained international fame as the best known yidaki maker and player from East Arnhem throughout a period when the instrument has become a global phenomenon.

Besides Yirrkala, members of the Galpu speaking language group  live at Galiwinku, Goulburn Island, Gunyungarra, Gangan and Galupa.  John Mandjuwi Gurruwiwi is a respected Galpu artist whose work is held in the National Gallery of Australia.     Source: Buku Llarngay Mulka, Yirrkala.


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