Miwatj Yolŋu – Sunrise People explores storytelling, ecology and materiality in the works of Yolŋu artists from the Yirrkala Community in East Arnhem Land. Like the Shoalhaven, Yirrkala is a place where fresh and saltwater meet, and its lands and waterways inform diverse creative practices.
Miwatj Yolŋu translates to ‘sunrise people’ in Yolŋu Matha (Yolŋu tongue). Geographically, Miwatj refers to the furthest north-eastern part of Arnhem Land that receives the morning sun, as it rises in the east.
Yolŋu artists enact cultural traditions through the expression of both sacred and secular narratives. The use of materials from local lands is an important part of this practice, encompassing natural ochres, ṉuwayak (bark painting) and larrikitj (memorial poles). Some artists in this exhibition have pioneered the use of reclaimed materials, such as repurposed dance boards, toner inks from used printer cartridges and signage salvaged from nearby bauxite (aluminium) mining operations. Others employ audio-visual technology in the documentation of ceremony, cultural history and the creation of new media artworks.
Presenting both senior and emerging artists from across the Yirrkala region, Miwatj Yolŋu – Sunrise People highlights the centrality of weather patterns and ecological systems within Yolŋu culture. It brings together works from the Buku-Larrnggay Mulka Centre, the Mulka Project digital archive and private collections from across Australia, sharing interwoven stories of land, water and sky.
Exhibited artists include Ms N Marawili, Dhambit Munuŋgurr, Gaypalani Waṉambi, Mulkuṉ Wirrpanda, Muluymuluy Wirrpanda, Djirrirra Wunuŋmurra, Djakaŋu Yunupiŋu, Nyapanyapa Yunupiŋu, Wanapati Yunupiŋu and artists associated with The Mulka Project, including Ruby Djikarra Alderton, Ishmael Marika, Patrina Munuŋgurr and Gutiŋarra Yunupingu.
Opening Weekend: 4-5 November 2023.