Djambawa Marawili

(Australia 1953 – )

Yirrkala, Arnhem region, Baniyala (Yilpara), Arnhem region
Language group
Madarrpa, Arnhem region


Not on display
Further information

‘Our intellectual knowledge exists in the fresh water and becomes one on the salt water’

Djambawa Marrawili is a leader of Madarrpa clan, with senior ceremonial responsibilities in his community of Yirrkala and indeed across Arnhem Land. He co-ordinated the Federal Court sea claim in 2004, which eventuated in the High Court's landmark determination in the 2008 Blue Mud Bay case that declared that Aboriginal people own the land between the low and high water mark. Marawili was instrumental in the development of the ‘Saltwater collection’ of bark paintings that document this connection to country and are now held in the National Maritime Museum, Sydney. Marawili is an artist of international standing and this work, ‘Mundukul’ 2015, was created for Saltwater: the 14th Istanbul Biennial in 2015.
In creating the work Marawili’s intention was to create an image that had healing properties and could absorb the difficult aspects of history, both within Turkey and across the world. Within the image Marawili refers to Mundukul, the lightning snake who may be manifest in multiple forms – from an arc of lightning over the ocean, or as a sandbar at the mouth of estuarine rives where the fresh water meets the salt water. Given these associations Mundukul is strongly aligned with the restorative powers of the wet season and the cleansing of country - he is able to swallow resentments and grief, allowing for a fresh beginning.

Place of origin
Yirrkala, North-east Arnhem Land, Northern Territory, Australia
Cultural origin
Madarrpa, Arnhem region
Bark painting
natural pigments on bark
242.0 x 103.0 cm
Signature & date

Not signed. Not dated.

Mollie Gowing Acquisition Fund for Contemporary Aboriginal Art 2016
Accession number
© Djambawa Marawili. Licensed by Buku-Larrnggay Mulka Art Centre