Exhibition

Gapu-Monuk Saltwater

Journey to Sea Country

Gapu Monuk Saltwater Journey to Sea Country

Discover the story of the Yolŋu people and the Blue Mud Bay legal case.

  • GAPU-MONUK SALTWATER


    ‘…this exhibit blows away DiorBowieMapplethorpe  – ALL of it. And it's ours from the Yolŋu people – their Dreamtime on bark paintings. I'm in total awe!’ 


    –  Wendy Harmer, ABC Radio

    On Now until February 2019

    Gapu-Monuk Saltwater: Journey to Sea Country, is an acknowledgement of the significant and stunning story of the Yolŋu people of northeast Arnhem Land and their fight for recognition of Indigenous Sea Rights and the Blue Mud Bay Legal Case. 

    Yirrkala Bark Paintings, also known as the Saltwater Collection 

    Created by 47 Yolŋu artists who petitioned for sea rights by painting their Sea Countries onto bark and revealing sacred patterns or designs known as miny’tji, that were created by Ancestral Beings.

    This stunning exhibition also includes Mokuy (spirit) carvings, Larrakitj (mortuary pole paintings on hollowed trees) and other traditional and contemporary works. 

    Many Communities Speaking As One

    Yolŋu artists from fifteen clans and eighteen homeland communities in east Arnhem Land created the sacred paintings in a response initiated by Madarrpa clan leader Djambawa Marawili in 1997, following his indignation at discovering illegal fishing on a sacred site in his clan estate. 

    The paintings were deemed the equivalent of title deeds to the sea rights of coastal waters. And almost a decade later, in July 2008, the High Court of Australia confirmed that traditional owners of the Blue Mud Bay region in North-East Arnhem Land, together with traditional owners of almost the entire Northern Territory coastline, have exclusive access rights to tidal waters overlying Aboriginal land. 

    Sacred Clan Designs

    Gapu-Monuk Saltwater reveals sacred clan designs demonstrating enduring connection to specific sea country. The Yirrkala Bark Paintings of Sea Country are as historic as they are sacred, as they will never be produced again.

    The Yirrkala Bark Paintings of Sea Country map hundreds of kilometres of the coast, showing physical and social features throughout the region. Visitors will see a host of vibrant images including ancestral beings, ancient mariners, symbolic icons and a host of spiritual creatures including snakes, crocodiles, fish, turtles and birds, all set against traditional sacred designs representing fresh, tidal and salt water.

    "...For there lies stories and songs, feelings. These are our feelings. We can feel the water as it goes out and as it comes in.
    That is why we love the saltwater and sea country."

    Statement from Son of Birrkitji*, Dhalwaŋu clan, Yirritja moiety


    Gapu-Monuk are words from the Yolŋu matha language, of north-east Arnhem Land. Gapu (water), monuk (salt), describes Saltwater.

    The museum would like to advise visitors that this exhibition may contain the names of, and artwork by, deceased Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander people.

    Gapu-Monuk Saltwater was designed by Indigenous company Black & White Creative.


    TICKET INFORMATION

    Open daily, 9.30am–5pm, from 9 November 2017 - February 2019.  

    Included in the FREE Galleries Ticket.

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    BUYING OUR PRODUCTS SUPPORTS INDIGENOUS ARTISTS AND THE MUSEUM

    The museum store has developed a unique range of Indigenous-made products that speak to the stories and themes in the Gapu-Monuk exhibition.  Available online or in the museum store you’ll find an assortment of books, kitchenware, unique bark paintings, contemporary sculptures and other collectibles. The range has been sourced directly from suppliers that not only acknowledge the traditional land owners of Australia but also feature unique artworks and designs created by Indigenous artists. The stories and environments of Indigenous culture are transformed into visual images and designs by weavers, painters, potters, textile artists and makers of traditional objects. The suppliers the museum work with receive a percentage of profits directly endowed to the Indigenous communities and artists to ensure their works are being ethically promoted.  Shop online.


    The Australian National Maritime Museum acknowledges the Yolngu people as the traditional custodians of the lands and waters of northeast Arnhem Land. We pay our respects to them and their elders both past and present.


    The Yirrkala bark paintings are held in the ANMM collection and were purchased with the assistance of Stephen Grant of the GrantPirrie Gallery.

    Exhibition developed in association with

     Buku-Larrnguy Mulka Centre logo

    Exhibition Sponsor

    Media Supporters

     
    University of New South Wales UNSW Sydney logo
    National Indigenous Television NITV logo
    Timeout logo

     Catering Partner

     
    Laissez-faire catering logo  

    Djambawa Marawili AM  ceremonial leader of the Madarrpa clan on northeast Arnhem Land and a lead plaintiff in the Blue Mud Bay Case Photo by Justin Overell 2Naminapu Maymuru, Milnijawuy, bark painting, ANMM Collection 00033798.On location in Yilpara in northeast Arnhem Land Photo by Justin Overell for Carbon Creative 2Djambawa Marawili AM - ceremonial leader of the Madarrpa clan on north-east Arnhem Land and a lead plaintiff in the Blue Mud Bay Case. Photo by Justin Overell for Carbon Creative.Yolnu dancers performing a traditional ceremony at the opening of the Gapu-Monuk Saltwater exhibition. Photo by Andrew Frolows. Dr Gumana AO, Djarrwark ga Dhalwanu, bark painting, ANMM Collection 00033797. On location in Yilpara in northeast Arnhem Land Photo by Justin Overell for Carbon Creative 2On location in Yilpara in north-east Arnhem Land. Photo by Justin Overell for Carbon Creative.Djambawa Marawili, Contemporary Madarrpa, bark painting, ANMM Collection 00033775. Yolnu dancers performing a traditional ceremony at the opening of the Gapu-Monuk Saltwater exhibition. Photo by Andrew Frolows. On location in Yilpara in north-east Arnhem Land. Photo by Justin Overell for Carbon Creative.Bunbatjiwuy Dhamarrandji, Bul’manydji at Gurala, bark painting, ANMM Collection 00033806.On location in Yilpara in northeast Arnhem Land Photo by Justin Overell for Carbon Creative 2Miniyawany Yunupinu, From Biranybirany, bark painting, ANMM Collection 00033802.On location in Yilpara in northeast Arnhem Land Photo by Justin Overell for Carbon Creative 2Mokuy spirit figures by Nawurapu Wunungmurra, an artist of the Yolnu people of Arnhem Land in the North Territory. (c) Nawurapu Wunungmurra, source Buku- Larrngay Mulka Arts centre.

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