Mowanjum Artists Recent Works
6 November – 21 December 2020
Mowanjum artists represent the cultures of Worrorra, Wunumbul and Ngarinyin language groups of the West Kimberley. Their stories have been written on the caves and rock ledges across their Country, recording the Creation sites and stories of Wandjina and Gyorn Gyorn spirits. Artists from the Mowanjum community on the Gibb River Road near Derby continue the tradition. Their paintings in ochre and limited edition prints tell the family stories of the Wandjina tradition and other cultural aspects of life in the region.
The Wandjinas brought law, culture and language to the people. The first Wandjina was Idjair, who lives in the Milky Way and is the father of all Wandjinas. His son Wallungunder created the Earth and all life upon it. After that he created the first human beings, the Gyorn Gyorn people. Wallungunder then brought back more Wandjinas to give the Gyorn Gyorn people laws to live by.
The three Wandjinas which represent the three language groups of Mowanjum are Namarali for the Worrorra people, Wodjin or Wanalirri for the Ngarinyin people, and Rimijmarra for the Wunambul people. The Wandjinas are most active as cloud spirits during the monsoon period, bringing rain to the entire Kimberley region.
Jack Dale (1920– 2013) elder and artist, described the Wandjinas in this way: “They are my proof of ownership of this land, just like the words written on a Title to Land. My title to land comes from the Narrungunni, the Dreaming, and Whitefellas get theirs from the government. In my way of thinking the Blackfellas law is older and more true.” Artworks in this exhibition include Jack Dale’s daughter Edna Dale and grandaughter Petrina Bedford. Other contributing artists include Donny Woolagoodja, Leah Umbagai, Kirsty Burgu and Cecilia Umbagai.