Harvey Art Projects is proud to present BARRKU, Treasures from a Distant Land opening this Christmas in Sun Valley, Idaho.  This will be Buku-Larrnggay’s first exhibit of stunning ceremonial poles and bark paintings in the United States, and it will be held in conjunction with a series of community cultural events including film screenings & artists talks with the visiting artist Wukun Wanambi.

Barrku‘ in Yolngu has two meanings – far away & something of excellence. HAP is thrilled to host such an extraordinary group of artists who live in such an entirely different world, a Yolngu world. 

This exhibit of barks, Mokoys (spirit figures) & Larrikitj (ceremonial poles) has been almost 12 months in preparation and, as it’s the first of its kind to be held in the USA, HAP is pretty excited about it all, especially as they have Wukun Wanmabi & art adviser Kade MacDonald travelling over for both the official opening & to host a community cultural events program. 

We will be showing 4 short films from The Mulka Project on Yolngu Culture.

The exhibit opens with a traditional ceremonial incorporating yidaki playing & song by Wukun on Friday Dec 30 at 6.30pm.

Buku Larrnngay in Yolngu means “the first rays of the sun on your face at sunrise” and ˜Mulka‘ means to hold or protect. The Buku-Larrnggay Mulka art centre at Yirrkala was established in 1975 and artists working with the centre have won many major awards, including five in a row in the late 1990s for bark painting. The elders and artists who control the centre have a long history of using their art to influence and challenge the colonial mainstream forces which have sought to marginalise them. Most famously, in 1963 artists sent a petition on Bark to Parliament House in Canberra to protest against a mining on their traditional lands.

By the mid 1980’s they were the first Aboriginal group to successfully win a high court challenge to have their lands returned to them as traditional owners. This set a major precedent for other indigenous groups to file successful land title claims. Yirrkala was perhaps the earliest community in Arhemland to embrace the production of art for these reasons. Yirrkala artists have maintained a strong discipline in their art – using only natural materials and following ancestral designs rigorously.

Wukun Wanambi is the oldest son of Mithili Wanambi, clan leader and renowned painter who passed away in 1981. Wukun learnt the sacred designs of his father from elders who had kept the information in trust for him. His first painting was a depiction of Bamurrunu, a sacred, white-domed rock in the middle of Trial Bay. It was the first time the motif had been painted since his father’s death. The painting won best bark at the 15th National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Art Awards. He is currently the Director of The Mulka Project, which adds an electronic perspective to the traditional arts at Yirrkala.

Other artists featured in Barrku! include Gulumbu Yunupingu, star of the Quai Branly Museum Aboriginal art commission, and about to deliver a massive eight metre Macassan sail-shaped artwork to the Hedley Bull Centre for World Politics at ANU’s College of Asia and the Pacific in Canberra. Her design of a Macassan sail incorporating the stars of her Garak/The Universe artworks refers to the long-standing interconnectedness between Aboriginal people and the Indonesian region, as well as their shared human spirit.

Another contributor is Nawurapu Wunungmurra, the man who revived the mokoy traditions, carving half human/half spirit figures for the Moscow Biennial and for a NATSIAA Award. His work has also been selected for Sculpture by the Sea in both Sydney and Cottesloe, Perth.