Female Mimih spirits are depicted in this dynamic design. According to the Kunwinjku people Mimih spirits were the original spirit beings who taught Aboriginal people many of the skills they needed to survive in the bush. They also taught aspects of ceremony. Mimih spirits inhabit the rocky escarpments around Gunbalanya but because they are extremely timid are rarely seen by humans. Often seen in the rock art of West Arnhem Land as small, dynamic figures, usually shown with hunting tools such as spears, spear throwers, dilly bags and fire sticks. Mimih spirits do many of the same things people do, and according to the artist the Mimih spirits in this design are “just having fun”, chatting, dancing and singing.
“Appropriation is just another form of colonisation,” […] “You are appropriating something from people that have had everything taken from them. The land has been taken. The language has been taken. The children have been taken. All that’s left is art.”
Gunybi Ganambarr’s work uses wood from mining and building sites to reference these industries’ impact on Aboriginal care of the land. The clan design denotes custodianship of Country predating colonialism and mining by tens of thousands of years.
[Photo: five long poles with white painting and stand in the centre of a gallery. A woman can be seen in the background admiring other works.]
“For people in these communities, eating junk food was not merely a lifestyle choice, she said. “People say to drink water from the taps, but some of the water in these communities is not safe to drink, so sugary drinks become a cheap alternative,” Doyle says.“People tell them to give their children two pieces of fruit each day, but if an orange [in remote area communities] costs $5 and you have four children, that’s half your pension packet gone.“You can’t expect people to be broke and have their kids go hungry for the sake of meeting fruit and vegetable quotas. So if a packet of chips costs $1.50, that’s what you’ll buy.”“
Aboriginal art isn’t some quirky art style for you to steal and incorporate into your art project. The symbols used aren’t wacky drawings, they have real meaning and need to be used and painted from your heart - they need to tell a story.