Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples should be aware that the following pages may contain images or names of people who have since passed away.

Namarrkon (The Lightning Spirit)

Paul Namarinjmak Nabulumo

Earth Pigments & PVA on Stringybark

101cm x 48cm

2020

Namarden or Namarrkon are Eastern Kunwinjku names for the Lightning Spirit. This entity, which is responsible for lightning and thunder, is painted on both stone and bark in a form described as ‘like a grasshopper’. Namarrkon is said to have made Ngaldjurr – Leichardt’s or the spectacular grasshopper [Petasia ephippigera]. The species emerges, mates and is most active and visible in the season known as Kunemeleng, between October and December when there are intense electrical storms. Ngaldjurr is then said to be ‘looking for’ Namarrkon. Namarrkon makes lightning and thunder by striking out with kurlbburru – stone axes which protrude from its joints. Today, the Kuninjku will not leave axes lying out in the open during an electrical storm as the axes act as an attraction to the destructive force of Namarrkon. The lines emanating from Namarrkon’s head are said to be mardno or lightning bolts of power.

There is a dreaming site for the lightning spirit on the Liverpool River. The site, Kukkurrh, is a high undercut red gravel bank on a bend in the river. The rest of the country along the river is either flat grassy plains or thick mangrove forest. The red cliffs are in startling contrast to the rest of the landscape. The Kuninjku tell of a lightning man who grew angry and began making a terrifying and destructive storm. A lightning woman began to feel sorry for the human beings who were being killed by the storm. The man and woman stood as ‘cousin’ to each other in tribal relationship – this relationship between men and women is one of restraint and avoidance. When the lightning woman grabbed her cousin to calm him down he immediately became quiet and let people live. So it is today, say the Kuninjku, if a man is fighting and no one can calm him, he will become quiet if his cousin tries to restrain him

Ref: 382-20

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Bongolinbongilinj: a songseries performed at Ankabarrbirri outstation – Pendulum Films/Culture Office Production

Maningrida Arts & Culture is a pre-eminent site of contemporary cultural expression and art-making, abundant with highly collectable art and emerging talent. Located on Kunibídji country in Arnhem Land in Australia’s Northern Territory, the art centre supports hundreds of artists from 32 outstations, 102 clan estates and 12 distinct language groups. Aboriginal people in this region are still on country, surviving and resilient because their country is the centre of their belief system and culture. Empowered by their ancestral connections to country and djang, the eternal, life-giving transformative power of the ancestors, artists from the Maningrida region have created an internationally renowned contemporary art movement that is powerful and enduring.

Over its 50-year history, Maningrida Arts & Culture has supported the careers of several renowned artists, including Yirawala, Peter Marralwanga and Wally Mandarrk. They paved the way for today’s senior artists, including John Mawurndjul, Owen Yalandja, Lena Yarinkura and Bob Burruwal, whose works can be seen in important national collections and institutions. Ways of learning and schools of art in this region are based around a system of passing knowledge and information on to others. The art here has its genesis in body design, rock art and cultural practices, in concert with several decades of collaborations, travel and political action to retain ownership of country. Values and law are expressed through language, imagery, manikay (song), bunggul (dance), doloppo bim (bark painting), sculptures, and weaving. To ensure the maintenance of important cultural knowledge and connection to their homelands, artists make their work from locally harvested natural materials.

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