Biennale of Sydney

Noŋgirrŋa Marawili

Left to Right: Noŋgirrŋa Marawili; Baratjala [Pink Lightning], 2019; Baratjala, 2019; Baratjala, 2019; Baratjala, 2019; Baratjala, 2019; and Baratjala, 2019. Installation view for the 22nd Biennale of Sydney (2020), Museum of Contemporary Art Australia. Presented at the 22nd Biennale of Sydney with generous assistance from Sue Acret and James Roth. Courtesy Private Collection, Melbourne; Private Collection, Sydney; Carey Lyon and Jo Crosby Collection; and the artist; Buku-Larrŋgay Mulka Centre, Yirrkala; and Alcaston Gallery, Melbourne. Photograph: Zan Wimberley.
Left to Right: Noŋgirrŋa Marawili; 'Baratjala', 2019; 'Baratjala', 2019; 'Baratjala', 2019; and 'Baratjala', 2019. Installation view for the 22nd Biennale of Sydney (2020), Museum of Contemporary Art Australia. Presented at the 22nd Biennale of Sydney with generous assistance from Sue Acret and James Roth. Courtesy Private Collection, Melbourne; Susan Colless Collection; and the artist; Buku-Larrŋgay Mulka Centre, Yirrkala; and Alcaston Gallery, Melbourne. Photograph: Alex Robinson
Noŋgirrŋa Marawili, 'Larrakitj', 2019. Installation view for the 22nd Biennale of Sydney (2020), Campbelltown Arts Centre. Kerry Stokes Collection, Perth. Photograph: Zan Wimberley.

Noŋgirrŋa Marawili

Born on the beach at Darrpirra, North of Cape Shield, Australia on the ocean side. As a child lived wakir’ (camping / moving around) at Maḏarrpa clan-related sites between Blue Mud Bay and Groote Eyelandt, Australia
Lives and Works at Yirrkala and Wandawuy, Australia


‘I paint water designs. The water. As it crashes on to the rocks at high tide. Sending the spray into the sky. Rocks which stand strong. And the waves which run and crash upon the rocks. The sea spray. This is the painting I do. You may spy on me and think that I am painting sacred things. This would be a lie.’

Lightning illuminating ocean sea spray as it smashes against large rocks, phenomena linked to Country and waters of cyclones, huge tides and ripping currents all find a place in Noŋgirrŋa Marawili’s imagery. The artist lived nomadically as part of a clan group with a flotilla of canoes between Groote Eyelandt and the mainland. Her father’s name was Mundukul (Lightning Snake), also the name of the serpent (known as Burrut’tji (Water Python)), who lives deep beneath the sea. The pink-toned works reflect a recent innovation – after discovering a discarded magenta print toner on her Country, Marawili began using ink from disused cartridges, reflecting Yolŋu philosophy that suggests, ‘if you paint the land you should use the land’.

At Campbelltown Arts Centre, three painted larrakitj – memorial poles made from hollow Stringybark – show Noŋgirrŋa Marawili’s characteristically dynamic mode of painting that brings forth the interconnected energies of places, layering the tangible and intangible forces, phenomena and atmospheres of environments constantly transforming.

Marawili’s use of pink tones reflects a recent innovation – after discovering a discarded magenta print toner, Marawili began using ink from disused cartridges, reflecting Yolŋu philosophy that suggests, ‘if you paint the land you should use the land’. Her work, while not embodying sacred designs, reflects the philosophies of her Maḏarrpa clan and bears the traces of the places she moves through.

Exhibited Artwork

Noŋgirrŋa Marawili, Larrakitj, 2019, earth pigments and recycled print toner on Stringybark. Presented at the 22nd Biennale of Sydney with generous assistance from Sue Acret and James Roth Kerry Stokes Collection, Perth

Photograph: Zan Wimberley

Location: Campbelltown Arts Centre

Noŋgirrŋa Marawili, Baratjala, 2019, earth pigments and recycled print toner on Stringybark, 195 x 85 cm. Commissioned by the Biennale of Sydney. Presented at the 22nd Biennale of Sydney with generous assistance from Sue Acret and James Roth. Courtesy the artist; Buku-Larrŋgay Mulka Centre, Yirrkala; and Alcaston Gallery, Melbourne.

Photograph: Alex Robinson

Location: Museum of Contemporary Art Australia

Noŋgirrŋa Marawili, Baratjala, 2019, earth pigments and recycled print toner on Stringybark, 170 x 93 cm. Presented at the 22nd Biennale of Sydney with generous assistance from Sue Acret and James Roth. Private collection, Melbourne.

Photograph: Alex Robinson

Location: Museum of Contemporary Art Australia

Noŋgirrŋa Marawili, Baratjala, 2019, earth pigments on Stringybark, 201 x 84 cm. Presented at the 22nd Biennale of Sydney with generous assistance from Sue Acret and James Roth. Arnaud Serval Collection, Switzerland

Photograph: Alex Robinson

Location: Museum of Contemporary Art Australia

Noŋgirrŋa Marawili, Baratjala, 2019, earth pigments and recycled print toner on Stringybark, 247 x 105 cm. Presented at the 22nd Biennale of Sydney with generous assistance from Sue Acret and James Roth. Collection of Susan Colless, Sydney.

Photograph: Alex Robinson

Location: Museum of Contemporary Art Australia

Noŋgirrŋa Marawili, Baratjala, 2019, earth pigments and recycled print toner on Stringybark, 193 x 100 cm. Commissioned by the Biennale of Sydney. Presented at the 22nd Biennale of Sydney with generous assistance from Sue Acret and James Roth. Courtesy the artist; Buku-Larrŋgay Mulka Centre, Yirrkala; and Alcaston Gallery, Melbourne

Photograph: Alex Robinson

Location: Museum of Contemporary Art Australia

Noŋgirrŋa Marawili, Baratjala, 2019, earth pigments and recycled print toner on Stringybark, 214 x 90 cm. Presented at the 22nd Biennale of Sydney with generous assistance from Sue Acret and James Roth. Private Collection

Photograph: Alex Robinson

Location: Museum of Contemporary Art Australia

Noŋgirrŋa Marawili, Baratjala, 2019, earth pigments and recycled print toner on Stringybark, 218 x 120 cm. Presented at the 22nd Biennale of Sydney with generous assistance from Sue Acret and James Roth. Private Collection

Photograph: Alex Robinson

Location: Museum of Contemporary Art Australia

Noŋgirrŋa Marawili, Baratjala, 2019, earth pigments on Stringybark, 188 x 81 cm. Presented at the 22nd Biennale of Sydney with generous assistance from Sue Acret and James Roth. Courtesy the artist; Buku-Larrŋgay Mulka Centre, Yirrkala; and Alcaston Gallery, Melbourne

Photograph: Alex Robinson

Location: Museum of Contemporary Art Australia

Noŋgirrŋa Marawili, Baratjala, 2019, earth pigments and recycled print toner on Stringybark, 175 x 87 cm. Presented at the 22nd Biennale of Sydney with generous assistance from Sue Acret and James Roth. Carey Lyon and Jo Crosby Collection

Photograph: Alex Robinson

Location: Museum of Contemporary Art Australia

Noŋgirrŋa Marawili, Baratjala [Pink Lightning], 2019, earth pigments and recycled print toner on Stringybark, 202 x 86 cm. Presented at the 22nd Biennale of Sydney with generous assistance from Sue Acret and James Roth. Private Collection

Photograph: Alex Robinson

Location: Museum of Contemporary Art Australia