Ngalkit (Saratoga–Scleropages jardini), Bokorn (spangled grunter), Karlerrh (freshwater Longtom), Kawuk (a night bird) and Burlukirri (a freshwater eel)

Wally Mandarrk

Ngalkit (Saratoga–Scleropages jardini), Bokorn (spangled grunter), Karlerrh (freshwater Longtom), Kawuk (a night bird) and Burlukirri (a freshwater eel), n.d.

Born Kurlidjkalh or Djidkdul, Northern Territory, Australia 1915, died Northern Territory 1987

A senior member of the Barabba clan from South-Central Arnhem Land, Wally Mandarrk was one of the last artists known to paint on rock. His paintings of mimih spirits, bush food, animals and plants were painted in a simple figural style with thick, white pigment made from natural materials. Twenty-nine of Mandarrk’s bark paintings are included in the Cbus Collection, seven of which are featured on this website.

Djamard (Archer Fish)

not dated
natural earth pigments on eucalyptus bark
23.8 x 75.9 cm
Djamard is one of the themes of the Murlarra song cycle. It draws its English name, Archer Fish, from its hunting technique. It can project a jet of water up to half a metre, enabling it to knock insects off low branches and into the water.

Ngalkit (Saratoga Scleropages Jardini), Bokorn (spangled grunter) and Bikurr (Nailfish Neosilurusater)

not dated
natural earth pigments on eucalyptus bark
50.7 x 84.2 x cm
The painting depicts fish dreamings at Benebenemdi. Ngalkit is sung in the Murlarra song cycle which is shared by the Balngara and Barabba groups.

Male Spirit with Spearthrower (borndok) and Hooked Spear (bokko)

not dated
natural earth pigments on eucalyptus bark
85 x 26.6 cm
Galbuma (Mandarrk’s eldest son) describes the spirit as Wayarra, an ancestral spirit, in this case from his own clan, Barabba. The spirit man can be seen by all in the form of an upright rock, about a metre tall, standing beside Imimbar Creek at Benebenemdi. When Mandarrk and his family visited the site in 1983 on a mapping trip, he pointed out that an ironwood tree which had previously shaded the stone had died. Mandarrk told the children to gather leaves which they placed on the spirit's head, to keep him cool.

Namormoyak (Spirit returning from hunting)

not dated
natural earth pigments on eucalyptus bark
80.3 x 40 cm
The Spirit hunter carries a forequarter and hindquarter of the black rock kangaroo namarr. Also shown are two yams, manburre, which are regarded as a staple of the Namormoyak. They are not eaten by people.

Kandakitj (Male Plains Kangaroo with Human Hand removing Stone Spearpoint)

not dated
natural earth pigments on eucalyptus bark
127.4 x 54.9 cm
Our father (Mandarrk) is thinking about when he hunted like that, says Galbuma.

Modjarrki (The Freshwater Crocodile)

not dated
natural earth pigments on eucalyptus bark
Sight 103 x 36.5 cm
The freshwater crocodile’s moiety affiliation is Duwa, and the saltwater crocodile is Yiridja. The anthropologist Maddock records a myth from Central Arnhem Land in which freshwater crocodile was the original owner of fire which he produced from firesticks. The bee eater Berrek Berrek stole the firesticks, which can be seen as two long feathers in the bee eater's tail.

Ngalkit (Saratoga Scleropages Jardini), Bokorn (Spangled Grunter), Karlerrh (Freshwater Longtom), Kawuk (a Night Bird) and Burlukirri (a Freshwater Eel)

not dated
natural earth pigments on eucalyptus bark
53.9 x 112.1 cm
This painting is inspired by Dreamings in Barabba clan country, Benebenemdi, on Imimbar Creek. The eel burlukirri is regarded as a leader of the fishes. When he is seen swimming upstream, fish are seen following him. Kawuk is a brown bird which fishes at night, probably a Night Heron.


Text reproduced with permission. Courtesy of Maningrida Arts and Culture.