Featured Tapestries

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Wamungu - My Mother’s Country

Ginger Riley Munduwalawala (c1937–2002) is seen as one of Australia’s most significant 20th-century Aboriginal artists. He was a member of the Mara community of Aboriginal people from the Gulf country in Arnhem Land in the Northern Territory. For many years he worked as a stockman on Nutwood Downs Station and, while travelling, met the well-known Indigenous artist Albert Namatjira, an encounter that was to influence his artistic development. In 1993 Munduwalawala won the inaugural First National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Heritage Commission Art Award, as well as the John McCaughey Memorial Art Prize. He participated in the Havana Biennial in 1994, and in 1996 was awarded an Australia Council Fellowship. A retrospective of his work was held at the National Gallery of Victoria in 1997: the first major retrospective of an Australian Aboriginal artist.

Munduwalawala’s large-scale tapestry Wamungkae, my mother’s country was commissioned by the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade in Canberra. The image is replete with references to Munduwalawala’s ancestral land on the Limmen Bight River in the Gulf country. The scene depicts a red sky and the symbolically important Four Archers which represent hill formations in the Limmen Bight landscape and relate to the creation myth. The image also includes animal totems such as kangaroos, snakes and sea-eagles. One of the totems depicted repeatedly across the image –the white-breasted sea eagle – was the subject of an earlier, smaller tapestry woven by the Workshop. The sea eagle, known as Ngak Ngak in Munduwalawala’s native language, often appeared in his paintings as an emblem of vigilance, a totem keeping protective watch over his beloved homeland.

Ginger Riley Munduwalawala- Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, Canberra

Collection of: Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, Canberra