Central Arnhem Land
Central Arnhem Land artists from various language groups live amongst dry stony country, savannah woodlands, fresh-water swamps and major rivers, and the islands and coastline of the Arafura Sea. Their paintings largely depict complex narratives articulating the creation of specific landscapes and the identities and connections over vast distances of the people who live there.
Within the works in this group lies the genesis of the central/eastern Arnhem Land art movement, illustrating the subjects and painting styles of diverse multi-lingual groups and artist families.
Most artists from the central region connect with the Maningrida settlement and Maningrida Arts and Culture, which was set up to support and encourage artists to paint for the growing market. As in other community art centres it provides logistical assistance, records and documents works, and markets them through general sales and exhibitions – ensuring that artists are well represented and properly remunerated.
A note on central Arnhem Land
Three works in ‘Transitions’ typify the diversity of the central Arnhem Land region:
- Birlmu (five barramundi) c.1960s by Dangbon-Dalabon artist Wally Mandarrk (1915–87) reflects his rocky escarpment country, which also encompasses fresh water billabongs and the Cadell River floodplains to the east where barramundi breed.
- Wandurk: Spirit figure from Gurrgoni Country 1980 by Mick Naromi (1923–unknown) depicts the ancestral being associated with a tract of stony land close to the main road leading out of Maningrida. Naromi and other artists in his family painted in an abstract style where imagery was subsumed into a mosaic of rarrk patterning divided by dotted lines.
- Waterhole at Barlparnarra 2007 by Terry Wilson Ngamandara b.1950 originates in Gochan Jiny-jirra community, set in rich, well-watered lands with areas of thick rainforest. In response to his Country Ngamandara mixed black and yellow pigments to make his signature green colour, painted in a unique sparse, finely drawn style.