Be inspired by atmospheric effects

These four bark paintings represent the sacred power of lightning. Marawili’s father’s name of Mundukul means ‘Lightning Snake’ and is also the name of the serpent or water python that lives deep in the sea in Baratjala, the Madarrpa clan estate (her family’s home). In these paintings, she includes some of the designs depicting the manifestation of Mundukul, where the snake spits into the sky in the form of lightning (guykthun) and depicts the sea spray from crashing waves (yurr’yunna )that threaten to dislodge unmoveable rocks at the site. As Will Stubbs, Coordinator of Buku-Larrŋgay Mulka Centre, notes: ‘Guykthunalso means “to make something sacred or taboo through saying magic words”. Thus Mundukul sends energy out into the sky.’

Marawili’s Country is known for its lightning strikes during the wet season, from November to April. In these four paintings, the artist captures the essence and energy of this natural phenomenon. Each painting, with its gestural line work and pulsating organic patterns, is rendered in different coloured natural earth pigments, allowing for a graduation of colour that creates a sense of movement.

The artist says that ‘the paintings I do are not sacred. I can’t steal my father’s painting. I just do my own design from the outside. Water. Rock. Rocks that stand strong, and the waves that run and crash upon the rocks. The sea spray. This is the painting I do’. Although Marawili denies any sacred intent in her works, they are emblematic of her identity, with both her own personality and ancestral background carrying through to the design (miny’tji).

– Gloria Strzelecki, Assistant Curator, Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Art 

Ideas for the classroom

Marawili draws inspiration from Baratjala, where she camped as a child with her father. She captures the atmospheric effects of wind, water and lightning.

  • Create a work of art about your favourite season.
  • Marawili is a painter and a printmaker. Using different media, create two works of art that draw inspiration from the place where you live.
  • Using a combination of satellite imagery, pressure maps, ocean currents and weather maps as inspiration, create a work of art inspired by the weather conditions where you live.
  • Choreograph a dance inspired by wind and lightning.
  • Make a costume that represents what the weather is like at your favourite place.
  • Listen to a range of weather sounds. Create a visual response to these sounds using coloured pencil, paper, pastel etc.
    Tip: Sounds can be found on YouTube or a sleep ambience application for Android or Apple.
  • Conduct a year-long art project by photographing a particular place in your school or home three times a day, every day for an entire school year. Exhibit these images as one large collaborative display. What changes do you recognise hour to hour, day to day, or month to month?
  • Imagine you are one of the elements. Write a story or poem from the perspective of a natural phenomenon.
  • Make a drawing machine that is powered by wind or water.