Balnhdhurr – A Lasting Impression

String Hands - image supplied by Buku-Larrnggay Mulka Centre

Image supplied by Buku-Larrnggay Mulka Centre

Balnhdhurr – A Lasting Impression celebrates twenty years of onsite print production at Yirrkala Print Space in the Buku-Larrnggay Mulka Centre in Northeast Arnhem Land. This exhibition showcases the Yolngu respect for clan and country, with many prints relating to the creation stories and Law as passed on by ancestors, highlighting the importance of kinship and family.

This collection is made up of a diverse array of work, a curated mix of art chosen because of the importance of the artist, the technique used, its influence or its presence in a broader project or series. Balnhdhurr – A Lasting Impression includes prints that are historically significant. The Macassan Boat tells the story of Macassan trade with the Yolngu before the arrival of Captain Cook, while The Berndt Etchings series talks about the Berndt Crayon Drawings of Yirrkala, produced by the artists’ forefathers in 1947. Similarly, The String Figures series are a response to another archaeological collection from 1948. Reflecting the dynamic nature of Yolngu art, the exhibition also provides an opportunity to acknowledge and appreciate the artists who have worked and created prints that have contributed to the conversation between the Yolngu people of Northeast Arnhem Land and the national and international community.

Balnhdhurr – A Lasting Impression takes the viewer on a visual journey, creating a platform for meaningful dialogue between Indigenous and non-Indigenous. It is a coming together of cultures and time, where audiences have the chance to learn of the Yolngu’s strong tradition in artwork and how their skills, talent and creativity have translated to printmaking. This exhibition enables printmakers to actively share their stories through art and for the accomplishments of a sustainable, functional and thriving print studio operating in an incredibly isolated landscape to be recognised and applauded.

“Every print has to be the design of the artist’s own clan or connecting clan. The design has to be done very carefully so as not to mix them up, and to understand their story. We have to talk about it with other people in that clan, so when the design is printed there is no problem. It’s a similar idea to the traditional designs used in the bark paintings and the wood carving, but in printmaking we get the direction from our elders to design the image of the outside story only. In the workshop a lot of Yolngu come and watch what we do in the print studio so they can understand the process.”

Marrnyula Mununggurr and Mundul Wunungmurra Mununggurr

Artback NT

Visions of Australia

Buku-Larrnggay Mulka

Yirrkala Print Space

Australia Council for the Arts

Northern Territory Government