These carvings are from the Buku-Larrngay Mulka (Yirrkala) community in Arnhem Land.
The Buku-Larrnggay Mulka Art Centre and Museum is in Yirrkala, a small Aboriginal community on the north-eastern tip of the Top End of the Northern Territory, approximately 700kms East of Darwin (Map). We service approximately twenty five homeland centres in the radius of 250km. This part of Australia is very special. The coastline and hinterland are largely unspoilt and still managed by the traditional owners, the Yolngu (Aboriginal people of the region between Numbulwar and Maningrida). They have fought all attempts by Balanda (non-Aboriginal people) to dispossess them.
The sacred art of this region details the spiritual forces behind the creation and continuing identity of the fresh and saltwater country of the Miwatj region of north-eastern Arnhem land. Miwatj means ‘morning side’ and refers to the fact that this is the most Easterly part of the Top End.
The ecosystems of both the land and sea are pristine and provide abundant food including yams, fruits, fish, kangaroo, wallaby, turtles and their eggs, dugong, emu, crayfish, oysters, mussels, tortoise, stingray, honey and more. The availability of these foods change as the Yolngu seasons subtly shift but the Balanda divide the year into two; the Dry (May-Dec) and the Wet (Jan-April).
BUKU-LARRNGGAY means the feeling on your face as it is struck by the first rays of the sun-this denotes that we are in the extreme East of the Top End – Miwatj, or the Sunrise country. MULKA is a sacred but public ceremony. It also means to hold or protect. Thus we are the Northeast Arnhem land cultural centre and keeping place.
The Centre was established formally in 1975 but art has been created here since time immemorial and shared with non-Yolngu since their arrival. In the 1960s Narritjin Maymuru set up his own gallery in a shelter by the beach from which he sold art which now graces many major museums and private collections.
The artists of this Centre have established a world wide reputation for excellence and have won seven prizes in the last six Telstra National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Art Awards (Australia’s premiere indigenous art prize held at the Northern Territory Museum and Art Gallery in Darwin each year).