KUNRONJ (FRESHWATER STORY) by Jennifer Wurrkidj 2007

Jennifer is a Kuninjku artist from the Kurulk clan whose country lies around the outstation of Mumeka in central Arnhem Land. Jennifer works at Bábbarra Women’s Centre alongside other members of her family who are also accomplished artists too: her mother, Helen Lanyinwanga (now deceased), sister Deborah Wurrkidj and daughter Abigail Namundja. She is a niece of Australia’s most highly acclaimed bark painter, John Mawurndjul, and she is renowned, in her own right, for her bark paintings, hollow logs and carved sculptures.

This design depicts important manme (food) sources from freshwater environments on Jennifer’s country and the implements used to gather these items.  The kunkaninj or digging stick featured in the design is used to dig for wayuk (waterlily) roots in billabongs, which are eaten fresh from the water or cooked on an open fire. The kunkaninj is also used to find and dig freshwater komrdawh (northern snake-necked turtle) that hibernate on the floodplains during the dry season.

Various fish species including the birlmu (barramundi), as shown here, are hunted with a spear or trapped inside a woven fish trap. This manme is carried within kunmadj (woven bags)which are made with fibres from the pandanus tree or sedge grasses, then enjoyed together by the family back at camp.

Sky blue linen with orange, pink and black ink. Printed by Publisher Textiles, Sydney