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Yirrkala drawings, at the Art Gallery of NSW

In 1947, senior ceremonial leaders at Yirrkala in north-east Arnhem Land produced hundreds of vibrant crayon drawings on paper for the anthropologists Ronald and Catherine Berndt, which are now held at the Berndt Museum of Anthropology at the University of Western Australia.

This exhibition presents 81 drawings and is the first time that a significant selection of the Yirrkala drawings collection has been displayed. In an unexpected palette of brilliant red, blue, yellow, green and black, they depict in exquisite detail the complexities of Yolngu life and cultural inheritance.

The exhibition includes works by men who became leading artists, including Mawalan and Wandjuk Marika, Munggurrawuy Yunupingu, Narritjin Maymuru and Wonggu Mununggurr. The descendants of these artists continue to produce artworks today, and a selection of their larrakitj from the Gallery’s collection will be exhibited alongside the drawings.

 

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Left to right: Mowarra Ganambarr Dätiwuy Thunderman and shark site at Arnhem Bay 1947, lumber crayon and chalk on butchers paper; Nänyin’ Maymuru Djarrakpi 1947, lumber crayon on butchers paper; Mundukul Marawili Fish trap at Baraltja 1947, lumber crayon on butchers paper. R M and C H Berndt Collection, Berndt Museum of Anthropology, University of WA, Perth

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