Ngak Ngak and the shark's liver tree

Ngak Ngak and the shark's liver tree
1990

Artist/s name
Ginger Riley Munduwalawala
Mara


Medium
synthetic polymer paint on paper
Measurements
41.0 x 57.7 cm irreg. (image) 51.0 x 67.0 cm irreg. (sheet)
Place/s of Execution
Ngukurr, Northern Territory
Accession Number
1996.214
Credit Line
National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne
Presented through The Art Foundation of Victoria by Anthony and Beverly Knight, Fellows, 1996
© Reproduced courtesy of the Estate of Ginger Riley Munduwalawala & Alcaston Gallery, Melbourne
Gallery Location
Not on display

Ginger Riley comes from the coastal saltwater country of the Marra people. His ‘mother country’ is about 55 kilometres inland from the Gulf of Carpentaria on the Limmen Bight River.

Many of Riley’s paintings represent the shark’s liver tree, which is depicted here. This tree is not a natural tree but a ceremonial construction and part of Riley’s mother’s creation story. Riley also depicts Ngak Ngak, a white-breasted sea eagle that plays the role of a sentinel or guardian, protecting the country. For Riley, representing Ngak Ngak is a way of honouring this protective spirit.

Although Riley’s work remains embedded in the land of his birth, no two paintings of his country or creation story are identical in colour or composition. His paintings say again and again, in the artist’s words, ‘My mother country is in my mind.’

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