An image of Monuk

Marrnyula Mununggurr

(Australia 1964 – )

Yirrkala, Arnhem region
Language group
Djapu, Arnhem region


Not on display
Further information

Born 1964, Djapu, Wandawuy/Yirrkala, Arnhem region

Marrnyula Mununggurr is among the generation of exceptional female artists working at Yirrkala who have been taught to paint by their fathers and grandfathers and are now painting many of the sites and designs that would once have been the sole domain of men. Mununggurr was instructed in painting by her father, Djutjadjutja Mununggurr and now works closely with her mother, Nonggirrnga Marawili, also an artist. Mununggurr began her career as a printmaker and was for many years the senior printmaker at Yirrkala Printspace. Her attention to detail, consistency in application and clarity of design are informed by this experience.

The strong grid pattern dominating both 'Monuk' 2008 refers to the Djapu clan site of Wandawuy. This outstation is surrounded by permanent freshwater and is associated with both Mäna, the ancestral shark and Bol'ngu the thunderman. Rains inspired by the actions of Bol'ngu feed the rivers and fill the billabongs, resulting in a rich sea life that is a home for mäna. The grid refers to the landscape of the site, a network of billabongs surrounded by ridges and high banks and also relates to the grid of a woven fish trap set here by ancestral hunters.

In 'Monuk' 2008 the pattern refers more specifically to the saltwater of the Gupa Djapu clan, with the dominate use of white referencing the sea foam of saltwater known as Balamumu. The turtle immersed within this field of white references the ancestral hunters Balurruwuy and Yanggamawuy who saw turtle from Burralku Island and proceeded to hunt this turtle.

Place of origin
Yirrkala, North-east Arnhem Land, Northern Territory, Australia
Cultural origin
Djapu, Wandawuy/Yirrkala, Arnhem region
Sculpture, Woodwork
natural pigments on wood
279.0 x 14.0 x 18.0 cm
Signature & date

Not signed. Not dated.

Tony Gilbert Bequest Fund 2013
Accession number
© Marrnyula Mununggurr, courtesy Buku-Larrnggay Mulka Art Centre, Yirrkala