Ivan Namirrkki (left) and Jack Nawilil at Maningrida, Photo Maningrida Arts.
Two of Central Arnhem Land’s most senior artists – Ivan Namirrki and Jack Nawilil from the coastal community of Maningrida 500k north-east of Darwin, are exhibiting new barks and sculptures at Everywhen Artspace in February.
Jack Nawilil was born in 1945 and is a revered law and song man whose unique fibre sculptures made of kurrajong bark with ochre pigment, natural fibres, bush wax and feathers, won him the prestigious 3D Award in the 2012 National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Art Award.
Sixty-three-year-old Ivan Namirrkki is the son of one of Maningrida’s most well-known founding artists Peter Marralwanga (1917–1987). Namirrkki was taught to paint by his father – a renowned bark painter and political proponent of the maintenance of his country and culture.
Themes in Namirrkki’s work include the ngalyod (rainbow serpent), djarlahdjarlah (barramundi), komorlo (little egret,), nayuhyungki bininj (ancient people), ngurrurdu (emu), yawkyawk (a water sprite) and mimih (spirit figure).
“The point of painting such work for the market is to expose viewers directly to the power of the ancestral realm,’ says Namirrkki.
Both Namirrkki and Nawilil have had decades-long, illustrious art careers. Their work has been exhibited in leading galleries Australia-wide and internationally and acquired by many of Australia’s state and national public galleries and leading private collectors worldwide.
Having painted in a more abstract linear style for many years, Ivan Namirrkki’s new works in the show hark back to the style that first made his work famous – fluid figurative images etched in fine line against a velvety black ground.
Nawilil’s extraordinary multimedia spirit poles are his own creation. However, the stories they represent are both ancient and complex – referencing multiple places, clans and events that span vast distances and timeframes.
Most of Nawilil’s works in the exhibition feature the story of the shooting star/comet called Namorroddo – believed by Central Arnhem Land people to be a manifestation of a spirit figure which can attack Aboriginal people and is overcome only by the powers of a very senior medicine man. Nawilil is one of the main proponents of this story – his beautifully crafted works exuding a power similar to that of ceremonial objects and unique in contemporary Aboriginal art.
Two Masters of Maningrida Arts runs from February 10-28 and can also be viewed online at everywhenart.com.au
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