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In Burarra and Gun-nartpa languages the figure represented in this artwork is generally known as a wangarra ‘ghost spirit’. For the Warrawarra clan ghost spirits have their own characteristics and their own name - Warraburnburn.
The Warraburnburn and the closely related Galabarrbarr spirit (owned by the Balkarranga clan) are also manikay song topics. The spirits are related to each other as maternal grandparent and grandchild, just as the people of Warrawarra and Balkarranga are. The dancing of the two ghost spirit figures forms the finale performance for funerals and is the final goodbye to a deceased family member.
In many ways the Warraburnburn and Galabarrbarr ghost spirits are like people. They emerge from the patches of jungle on Warrawarra and Balkarranga country in the late afternoon and go hunting in family groups of men, women and children.
Top End Bugi is a showcase of innovation and expertise from the Arnhem Land Artists of Buku-Larrŋgay Mulka Centre, Ngukurr Arts Aboriginal Corporation and Maningrida Arts and Culture. Presenting a series of works on Stringybark and selection of Larrakitj, Top End Bugi celebrates the creativity and diversity of bark artists, emerging and established. Connecting city and country, Top End Bugi is a spotlight for contemporary bark art, combining Top End, a collective term given to the northernmost region of the Northern Territory and Bugi, the Darug (Sydney Aboriginal Language) word for bark.
As a cultural practice, bark art is a continuation of tradition, passing down sacred stories, designs and teachings through intricate strokes. The collection process begins after the wet season when the Stringybark tree is stripped, cured by fire, weighted and left to dry. Then using earth pigments, designs are layered, often with crosshatched strokes that speak to the cultural identity and visual language of the artist.
Artist: Matilda Pascoe
Title: Warraburnburn, 192-20.
Medium: Bark Painting
Dimensions: 126 x 61cm
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