Exhibition companion book
Two artists, two completely different approaches, but one abiding passion — to celebrate the natural bounty to be found in the floodplains, swamps, savannas and woodlands of northern Australia.
Mulkun Wirrpanda and John Wolseley, her adopted wäwa (brother), have created a powerful body of works depicting many of the edible plants of north-east Arnhem Land.
‘I made this painting after eating bundjuŋu [bush orange] … I was thinking about how we used to eat when I was a child … I was thinking about nowadays … and about the rubbish that our children eat.’
And so Mulkun Wirrpanda, a senior elder of the Dhudi-Djapu clan, resolved to paint the traditional food plants of her Yolŋu community to safeguard this knowledge for future generations.
The suite of bark paintings Mulkun created is the subject of this lavishly illustrated book for the National Museum of Australia’s new exhibition, Midawarr | Harvest: The Art of Mulkun Wirrpanda and John Wolseley. Providing a natural counterpoint to these works is a vast and beautifully detailed scroll by renowned landscape painter John Wolseley. The supporting text draws on the wealth of Yolŋu botanical knowledge, describing the food and medicinal plants featured in the paintings and how they are collected, prepared and used.
ISBN 978 1 921953 31 6
Paperback, 208 pages, 205 x 310 mm (portrait), full colour
National Museum of Australia Press, November 2017
Front cover: Distant glimpses ... 2017 (details), John Wolseley; National Museum of Australia. Darwirr, 2014, (detail), Mulkun Wirrpanda; donated through the Australian Government’s Cultural Gifts Program by Wayne and Vicki McGeogh.