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Wangurri clan, Yirritja moiety

About 1880–1950s

Makarrwala was a man of great authority and influence, regarded as the headman of central Arnhem Land. By the time he met the American anthropologist W Lloyd Warner in 1926, he could speak several languages including English and Malay (Makasar). Makarrwala became the research partner and friend of Warner, who conducted fieldwork at Milingimbi and recorded an insightful personal account of the artist’s life in his ethnography A Black Civilisation.

Makarrwala’s clan lands lie further to the east, around Arnhem Bay. His paintings were collected by CP Mountford during the 1948 expedition to Arnhem Land, and by the Australian collector and philanthropist Stuart Scougall in the 1950s.

Painting in the exhibition

A bark painting worked with ochres on bark. It has two thin rectangles protruding from the top of the main panel. Each depicts an insect-like figure, with the one on the left also depicting a turtle and a fish. The main panel is divided into four further sections by wide crosshatched bands. There are diamond-shaped patterns painted in different colours running vertically down each of these.
Milka (Mangrove Worms)

All these bark paintings are part of the National Museum of Australia’s collection. © the artist or the artist’s estate, licensed by Aboriginal Artists Agency 2013, unless otherwise specified. These images must not be reproduced in any form without permission.

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