Wak (Black Crow Dreaming)
Melba Gunjarrwanga is a Kuninjku artist, and is a skilled printmaker, sculptor, weaver and bark painter. Melba has taken part in group exhibitions across Australia and the world presented by Maningrida Arts and Culture. Her work is held in the national collection and most state art galleries.
This design depicts a sacred site at ‘Kurrurldul’, an outstation south of Maningrida.
The ‘rarrk’, or abstract crosshatching, on this work represents the design for the crow totem ancestor called ‘Djimarr’. Today this being exists in the form of a rock, which is permanently submerged at the bottom of Kurrurldul Creek. The ‘Djimarr’ rock in the stream at Kurrurldul is said to move around and call out in a soft hooting tone at night. Both the stone itself and the area around it are considered sacred.
Finally, the pattern used here is also the crow design used in the sacred ‘Mardayin’ ceremony, which is a large regional patri-moiety ceremony now rarely conducted in central and eastern Arnhem Land.