The Koskela Gallery Presents 'Dhapi en Ŋaraka', a series of vibrant works by Wally Wilfred

Wally Wilfred's art is a vibrant expression of Yolŋu culture, brought to life in his latest solo exhibition at Koskela Gallery, 'Dhapi en Ŋaraka'.

For nearly two decades, Wally Wilfred has been an integral part of the Ngukurr Art Centre, situated in the heart of South East Arnhem Land, just a stone's throw from the serene Roper River. This art centre, as diverse as the region itself, has become a dynamic hub of creative energy.

At the Ngukurr Art Centre, you'll encounter a community comprised of individuals from a multitude of clans and language groups, embracing cultures such as Ngalakgan, Alawa, Mangarrayi, Ngandi, Marra, Warndarrang, Nunggubuyu, Ritharrngu-Wägilak, and Rembarrnga, collectively known as Yugul Mangi.

Wally Wilfred's artistic journey, deeply rooted in Ngukurr, encapsulates the essence of contemporary Aboriginal art. He deftly intertwines traditional techniques with audacious and vibrant colours, resulting in a strikingly unique artistic identity.

His art transcends conventional boundaries; it serves as a visual narrative, a tale of history, culture, and heritage. Wally's canvas, much like the footsteps of his grandfather, Sambo Barra Barra, explores the ever-evolving interplay between tradition and the present, weaving a rich tapestry that reflects life in South East Arnhem Land.

The Ngukurr Art Centre, like Wally Wilfred, thrives in this transformative space, a cradle for artistic expression and a melting pot of indigenous heritage. Diverse clans unite to channel their collective creativity into the heart of Arnhem Land, resulting in vibrant works that resonate with both ancient wisdom and a contemporary spirit.

Exploring Wally Wilfred's art, you embark on a journey that unveils tradition, lineage, and resilience. It's a voyage into the uncharted territories of the unexpected, and stretches beyond the conventional boundaries of contemporary Aboriginal art.

The exhibition explores two captivating themes: 'Bones' (Ŋaraka) and the 'Dhapi Ceremony.' 'Bones' carries profound significance, with the bones symbolising the essence of Yolŋu, animals, and the 'devil devil.' These bones are integral to their culture and homelands, each possessing unique songlines. When someone passes away, the bones are sung to and then laid to rest, a tradition that dates back to ancient times. A totem stick is crafted to commemorate the departed, serving as a lasting memorial.

"Dijan ola ŋaraka wani insaid la mokuy, la Yolŋu en la enimul. Dismob impotin la melabat en la mela houmlen / These are the bones inside the devil devil, Yolŋu and animals. These are very important to us and our homelands" - Wally Wilfred

- Wally Wilfred

In contrast, the 'Dhapi Ceremony' paints the story of young boys undergoing circumcision. Termed Dhapi, it involves the boys standing over a fire, which burns their feet, knees, hands, and mouth. This ceremony instills values of respect, prohibiting stealing and swearing, while emphasising reverence for girls. The Dhapi Ceremony acts as a guide for these young boys, teaching them the importance of respect, a design inspired by Wally Wilfred's grandfather.

Wally Wilfred's art is acclaimed and highly collectible, with select pieces showcased at the prestigious Art Gallery of New South Wales. We invite you to the Koskela Gallery, where 'Dhapi en Ŋaraka' encapsulates the breathtaking duality of tradition and innovation, painted in vibrant strokes and vivid colours. Discover the artistry of Wally Wilfred and his exquisite interpretation of Yolŋu culture, an artistic journey that continues to captivate and inspire.