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'In this painting Narritjin has depicted Gunyan, the sacred white sand crab, which lives in the white sand at the foot of a cliff near Blue Mud Bay. On the cliff above stands Waligul, the sacred tree of life, which is visible only to old men who have been through all their tribal ceremonies, and then the tree is only visible briefly, through the soft swirling mists of dawn.
Gunyan sits half in and half out of his burrow, waiting to catch small fish stranded by the outgoing tide. The colors [sic] on his shell and the colors [sic] of the tracks radiating out from his burrow were given to the Manggalili clan by two important men in the Dreamtime, and these are the colours used on bodies in ceremonial dancing.
In the topmost branches of the sacred tree above sits Guwark, a big black bird with red beady eyes. He waits there all day to receive messages from the people on earth. These messages are brought to him by possums and cicadas, which scamper up the tree and whisper to him about the problems troubling the yulnu, (aboriginal people on earth). Then Guwark flies off across the sea to the sacred island of Baralku, where the message is received by Barama, one of the four early spirit heroes of the Yirritja people. After conferring with the other spirits, Barama gives the answer to Guwark, who then flies back to the sacred tree, screeching out ?guwark, guwark? as he approaches, to let the possums and cicadas know of his coming'' (typed label on reverse of 2007.0053.0965).
A bark painting worked with ochres on bark. It depicts two sand crabs positioned above and below a central circular shape. Adjacent to each crab is a black bird. The background of the painting consists of wavy crosshatched columns intersected with three wavy horizontal sections.
The Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Affairs Art collection comprises 2050 artworks and other objects. The artworks - which numerically dominate the collection - were produced by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities throughout Australia. The accumulation of these artworks into a single collection has resulted from the choices and selections made during a 38 year period by a variety of staff working for the Council for Aboriginal Affairs (CAA), the Department of Aboriginal Affairs (DAA), the Aboriginal Development Commission (ADC) and the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Commission (ATSIC) at the national, regional and local levels.
The collection spans the years following the 1967 referendum, when dramatic changes in the governance of Aboriginal people took place, up to 2005 when the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Commission was dissolved. It provides a snapshot of the diversity and changes in Indigenous art and its representation which occurred during the period of its formation. The small number of 'non-art' objects in the collection is also significant in providing insights into the working of the various Commonwealth bodies involved in Indigenous affairs. As well as the significance of many of the individual pieces, the collection is also significant as a whole, as a complex artefact stemming from Australia's history of governance of Australian Indigenous peoples.
W 460mm x H 920mm x D 30mm
Verified by D Kaus 27/5/2013
ATSIC branch office