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Seattle Art Museum (SAM)
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Marrakulu at the Goyder River

Image Coming Soon

Marrakulu at the Goyder River


Wolpa Wanambi

Australian Aboriginal, born ca. 1970

"Stringy" eucalyptus bark has been flattened out to form a canvas. In keeping with patterns long established in northern Australia, the artist uses only natural pigments to construct a landscape. Linear striations and dotted subdivisions activate the surface with a crowded patterning that is able to imbue the painting with a visual brilliance and ritual significance.

The Marrakulu clan considers the lagoon that empties into the Blue Mud Bay to be a special area of fertility, a reservoir for their sacred ancestral beings. Down the center, a goanna swims through a spring fed waterhole while holding a mussel (known as a forbidden fruit) in its mouth. Small fish swim on either side and palm trees surround the site where two ancestral sisters visited and sanctified the lagoon as a site belonging to the Marrakulu.
Natural pigments on eucalyptus bark
92 1/2 x 37 in. (235 x 94 cm)
Gift of Margaret Levi and Robert Kaplan
Provenance: [Buku-Larrngay Arts (community arts center), 1998]; purchased from arts center by Robert Kaplan and Margaret Levi, Seattle, 1998; gift from Mr. Kaplan and Dr. Levi to Seattle Art Museum, December 2000
Not currently on view

Seattle Art Museum respectfully acknowledges that we are on Indigenous land, the traditional territories of the Coast Salish people. We honor our ongoing connection to these communities past, present, and future.

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