Life-Land: Gurruwiwi’s Arnhem Land Coast, Tjungurrayi’s Western Desert Country.

Left: John Mandjuwi’s ‘Wurrkadi & Maranydjalk’ natural ochre pigment upon linen painting, 1997. Size 1790 x 1210mm, Palya Art No. 0290.  Right: George Ward Tjungurrayi’s untitled painting in acrylic pigment on linen, 2004. Size 1830 x 2440mm, Palya Art No. 2028HR ©The Artists, Papunya Tula Artists & Helen Read.
Aerial and 3D perspectives combined, these two distinctive, culturally and stylistically diverse paintings are seen imbued with thousands of years accumulated knowledge.
Above left, Galpu and Dhangu language speaker John Mandjuwi Gurruwiwi– who’s homeland ‘Gika’ is situated on a mangrove beach facing North across the Nalawarung Straits in far North Northern Territory – Eastern Arnhem Land – said in part 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.
Pintupi speaking from the Western Deserts country of inner Australia, George Ward Tjungurrayi’s polymer pigment painting, above right, emanates too the artists’ soul-soaked understanding of country. Navigation, nourishment and celebration; cultural, spiritual and physical life – elements connected and alive in shimmering beauty.
You are welcome to join me flying across Arnhem Land this July with Palya Art Tours. You may also like to visit  Palya Art’s Online Gallery or see the artworks in person at Palya Art’s South Melbourne Gallery   
This article first appeared on on the 22nd April 2018.
Helen Read is an artist and former nurse-pilot for the Pintupi Homelands Health Service in Walungurru (Kintore), Kiwirrkurra, Gibson Desert, Central Australia.
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