David MALANGI DAYMIRRINGU | Waterhole life

Australia 1927 – 1999
Waterhole life
1985.0003.0099 Central roundel surrounded by catfish above, waterlily leaf below, trees up both sides. [c.1965]
Bark Painting
natural pigments on eucalyptus bark
80.5 (h) x 56.5 (w) cm
Mrs Yolanda Pettinato Collection, National Museum of Australia, Canberra
© David Malangi. Licensed by VISCOPY, Australia

Like other bodies of work begun when Malangi was younger, and in possession of less ceremonial authority and experience as a painter, his early depictions of Yathalamarra of the 1960s adhere to a personal template that he used to paint the ‘whole’ dollar note story. In a vertical format the central figure (of Gurrmirringu) is replaced by a central roundel (waterhole) surrounded by trees and animals related to the site.

The more accomplished works came with Malangi’s orientation of the bark from vertical to horizontal. Within this ‘landscape’he painted a series of pictures documenting the Yathalamarra waterhole. These vast columnar paintings emerged at around the time when Malangi was also producing aspect paintings as part of the Djan'kawu series. The use of individual elements within the Yathalamarra works influenced the Djan'kawu ‘icon’ paintings. One approach fed into the other while each remained distinct.

Their structure enabled him to depict an inventory of the Ancestral narrative that is visually partitioned across the picture plane. The important Ancestors in the telling of the Yathalamarra creation story are: Burala the Darter, the waterlily women Bundul and Biyay’ngu, waterlily bulbs and leaves and Wulawarri the Catfish who is associated with Djalumbu [the hollow log].

Yes. This his name Yathalamarra, my mother’s country that I've been doing paintings, the bark paintings of this country. I've been painting for my mother. The tucker got a name, called gindjimirri, waterlily leaf …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