An image of To Yirrawalla

Brett Whiteley

(Australia, England 07 Apr 1939 – 15 Jun 1992)

To Yirrawalla

Other titles:
Not on display
Further information

‘To Yirrawalla’ is a tribute to the artist Yirawala (1903 - 1976) from the language group Kuniniku of the Arnhem region. Whiteley felt a strong affinity upon meeting him in Sydney in 1971 and viewing his bark paintings.
The minimal atmosphere of 'To Yirrawalla' conjures up a late winter scene in a paddock somewhere in the New South Wales central west. The desiccate landscape appears to barely sustain life, apart from tiny birds, insects and exotic blue vegetation. Surprisingly the stream running through the bottom portion of the the picture harbours a life-size platypus, a favourite hyrid creature of Whiteleys, perfectly adapted to its demanding environment. As well, the artist’s deft deployment of stones, a tree branch and collage all play a part in activating or heightening visual intrigue. The only hint of modernity is a bitumen roadway negotiating its way through the top left corner of the painting. The work was a precursor to such celebrated paintings as 'River at Marulan' 1976 and 'Summer at Carcoar' 1977.

Gavin Wilson in 'Rivers + Rocks: select works of Arthur Boyd & Brett Whiteley', 2001, page 14

Painting, Collage
oil and mixed media on board
185.3 x 166.3 x 6.3 cm board
Signature & date

Signed and dated l.r. corner, black ink "... Brett Whiteley/ Aug-Sept/ 1972"

Purchased by the New South Wales State Government 1994, transferred to the Gallery 1998
Accession number
© Wendy Whiteley