David MALANGI DAYMIRRINGU | Yathalamarra totems

Australia 1927 – 1999
Yathalamarra totems
Central vertical waterlily plant with bulb, leaves and flower surrounded by catfish, tortoise, diver duck 1979
Bark Painting
natural pigments on eucalyptus bark
104.2 (h) x 64.0 (w) cm
Private collection, Canberra
© David Malangi. Licensed by VISCOPY, Australia

The creation story for Yathalamarra involves the Ancestral waterlily women Biyay’ngu and Bundul. They created part of the waterhole, with their digging sticks while harvesting roots of the waterlily, gindjimirri. This figurative representation of the women is unusual. It was more common for Malangi to express the Ancestral presence through their plant or animal representation.

The edible waterlily is sacred to the Balmbi, especially the waterlily’s heart- shaped leaf. Biyay'ngu and Bundul reside in Yathalamarra. They had breasts on their backs as well as their chests, depicted in Malangi’s paintings as conical shapes.

Yes that’s two women, Balmbi women … Biyay’ngu and Bundul belong to this place Gutitjbimirri … Still there those two in the water with digging sticks, digging for waterlily roots, gindjimirri. They’re camping inside the water, sleeping underwater.Malangi, 1989[1]

[1] David Malangi from an interview with Margie West at Ramingining and Yathalamarra, September 20–21, 1989.

­­­­­­­­­­­­­­Excerpt from Margie West, ‘Yathalamara — land of the waterlily’ in the exhibition catalogue No ordinary place: the art of David Malangi, Canberra: National Gallery of Australia, 2004, p. 42–50. 

The publication, which includes articles by the exhibition curator Susan Jenkins, Nigel Lendon and Djon Mundine, is available from the Gallery Shop for $34.95 (RRP $49.95) or online at ngashop.com.au.

NGA Home | Introduction | Gallery | Search | Essays | Previous