Rite of Spring / Rrarrandharr: Malaluba Gumana with Djirrirra Wunungmurra / Saskia Havekes — 10 September to 8 October 2011


Malaluba Gumana with Djirrirra Wunungmurra and Saskia Havekes (Grandiflora)




An exhibition celebrating the beauty and deep significance of flora.

10 September to 8 October 2011

Presented with Buku-Larrnggay Mulka Centre, Yirrkala, Australia. http://www.yirrkala.com/


Malaluba Gumana and Djirrirra Wunungmurra are central to the rise and strength of Yolgnu women artists. They live in neighbouring houses in the tiny homeland of Gangan in the Blue Mud Bay region in Northeast Arnhem Land.


In the vast Top End, rrarrandharr, from August to October, is the dry season. Fish are fat and hungry and trees fruit. In Sydney, flowers herald the six seasons, now in transition from gossamer wattle to the waratah.


Paintings and larrakitj (memorial poles) by Malaluba Gumana and Djirrirra Wunungmurra represent their place, its six spectacular seasons, its ancestral story and, of course, carry each artist’s personal history. Saskia Havekes of Grandiflora is one of Australia's most creative florists, known for her sculptural seasonal tributes. Her arrangement welcomes these metaphysically inclined botanical paintings to Kings Cross.

In Malaluba Gumana’s paintings, the dhatam (Nymphaea gigantea, lotus/waterlily) floats on a ground of a fine rainbow (djari), the sacred Galapu clan designs of djaykung (filesnake) and Wititj (Rainbow Serpent). Creating ripples and rainbows on the water’s surface, the filesnake is a companion of wititj. The place is near her homeland, a billabong, Garrimala, that is a sacred site for her mother’s Gålpu clan.

The story of Wititj, the Rainbow Serpent, is of storm and monsoon. The sun shining against the snake’s scales forms a prism of light like a rainbow, a significant message about beauty and transience.


Malaluba Gumana reveals the rainbow's poetry and the energy created by the unpredictable movement of Wititj as the figure and ground shift and change. Wititj controls life's most precious resource — the waters, and the tension between replenishment and scarcity.




Djirrirra Wunungmurra's minimal larrakitj illustrate yukuwa, the yam, and one of the names of the artist — intended almost as a self-portrait. Yukuwa’s annual reappearance is a metaphor for increase and renewal. They speak of the Yukuwa Ceremony that renews Yirritja moiety clans, the emanating tendrils suggesting the binding kinship lines.


Malaluba Gumana and Djirrirra Wunungmurra contributed to the installation Larrakitj, Yolngu Artists for the Museum of Contemporary Art for the Sydney Biennale of Sydney 2010, (one of the most important collections of memorial poles, assembled for the Kerry Stokes Collection in Perth).

Larrakitj have their origins in traditional Yolngu funeral rituals, painted with clan designs belonging to the deceased. The missions introduced European-style coffin burials and artists renewed the larrakitj as grounds for artistic experimentation. Now they are sought-after sculptures.
The Sydney artworld celebrates the seasonal transition with the exhibitions Primavera (MCA) and One Hundred Flowers (AGNSW). Saskia Havekes and Gary Heery have collaborated on Grandiflora Celebration (Penguin, 2011), a book just released of extraordinary floral specimens. For Malaluba Gumana and Djirrirra Wunungmurra this is their first exhibition in Sydney.

The title emanates, like the dialogue inspired by yam tendrils, from Rite of Spring, Igor Stravinsky’s experimentation with 'primativist' musical dissonance written for Sergei Diaghilev’s Ballets Russes.





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Djirrirra Wunungmurra, Yukuwa, 2010. Larrakitj, 200 cm
Installation view Rite of Spring, 2011.
Malaluba Gumana,  Dhatam, 2010. Larrakitj, 162 cm  


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Malaluba Gumana, Waterlily and Filesnakes, 2007. Natural ochre on bark, 114 x 37 cm (3107A)   
Malaluba Gumana, Dhatam (waterlily and rainbow), 2010. 128 x 52 cm. (3920Sb) 
Malaluba Gumana, Dhatam, 2010. 95 x 26 cm (3937W) Malaluba Gumana, Dhatam, 2010. 118 x 34 cm (3943Y)  
Malaluba Gumana, Dhatam, 2010. 143 x 43 cm (3920S)


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NE Arnhem Land - Homeland Centres
Yolngu Artists, Larrakitj, installation view Museum of Contemporary Art, Sydney Biennale 2010, includes Malaluba Gumana and Djirrirra Wunumurra. Kerry Stokes Collection. Djirrirra Wunungmurra, Billabong, Larrakitj, 2010. Detail (3980E)


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Installation view, Cross Art Projects, 2011. Installation view, Cross Art Projects, 2011.
Installation view, Cross Art Projects, 2011.  




Saskia Havekes (Grandiflora): In Sydney flowers are now in transition from gossamer wattle to the waratah. Saskia has created a sculptural seasonal tribute for the exhibition. Saskia Havekes and Gary Heery’s Grandiflora Celebration (Penguin, 2011), documents her extraordinary floral specimens. http://grandiflora.net/GrandifloraCelebrations