David MALANGI DAYMIRRINGU | The snake that bit Gurrmirringu

Australia 1927 – 1999
The snake that bit Gurrmirringu
Central black tree, birds at top, snakes at bottom and tortoise and lizard 1992
Bark Painting
natural pigments on eucalyptus bark
113.0 (h) x 66.0 (w) cm
Private collection, Canberra
© David Malangi. Licensed by VISCOPY, Australia

One day, Gurrmirringu was carrying home the fruits of a good day’s hunting when he rested by a waterhole in the shade of a wurrumbuku [white berry tree] to cook some of his catch. Some stories record that an evil spirit lurked in the trees roots causing a king brown snake to rise from the roots and bite Gurrmirringu, killing him.

The evil tree spirit was an occasional subject of Malangi’s. The evil connotation was expressed in painting by a beaked and clawed diagonal figure and jagged forms merging with the gnarled tree forms.

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