"I paint water designs. The water. As it crashes on to the rocks at high tide. Sending the spray into the sky. Rocks which stand strong. And the waves which run and crash upon the rocks. The sea spray. This is the painting I do. You may spy on me and think that I am painting sacred things. This would be a lie."

Lightning illuminating ocean sea spray as it smashes against large rocks, phenomena linked to Country and waters of cyclones, huge tides and ripping currents all find a place in Noŋgirrŋa Marawili’s imagery. The artist lived nomadically as part of a clan group with a flotilla of canoes between Groote Eylandt and the mainland. Her father’s name was Mundukul (Lightning Snake), also the name of the serpent (known as Burrut’tji (Water Python)), who lives deep beneath the sea. The pink-toned works reflect a recent innovation – after discovering a discarded magenta print toner on her Country, Marawili began using ink from disused cartridges, reflecting Yolŋu philosophy that suggests, ‘if you paint the land you should use the land’.


  • Title: Baratjala
  • Creator: Noŋgirrŋa Marawili
  • Date Created: 2019
  • Location Created: Museum of Contemporary Art Australia
  • Physical Dimensions: 175 x 87 cm (irreg.)
  • Provenance: Presented at the 22nd Biennale of Sydney with generous assistance from Sue Acret and James Roth. Courtesy Carey Lyon and Jo Crosby Collection.
  • Type: painting
  • Rights: Biennale of Sydney
  • Medium: earth pigments and recycled print toner on Stringybark (3787-19)
  • Edition: 22nd Biennale of Sydney (2020): NIRIN

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