Untitled (Limmen Bight Country) signed 'Ginger Riley' in the lower centre synthetic polymer paint on paper 54.5 x 74cm
PROVENANCE: Painted at Ngukurr, Northern Territory in 1995 Sotheby's, Contemporary and Aboriginal Art, Melbourne, 18 June 1995, lot 430 Private collection
Cf. For related paintings from 1993 all with full signatures in the lower centre margin see Judith Ryan, Ginger Riley, Melbourne: National Gallery of Victoria, 1997, p.83, pp.85-87 and p.89.
The mouth of the Limmen Bight River where it flows into the Gulf of Carpentaria provides the setting for the epic ancestral events that are the subject of Munduwalawala's paintings. The country belongs to his mother's clan, and consequently Munduwalawala was a jungkayi or custodian of this land, with the traditional responsibility of honouring it, and in the latter years of his life, by painting it.
The chief ancestral protagonists in these chronicles are Garimala the Taipan or Rainbow Serpent associated with the wet season who is often depicted as two Rainbow Serpents; Bulukbun the angry fire-breathing serpent; and the King Brown snake Bandian who created sites in the region.
Munduwalawala usually depicts his major totem Ngak Ngak the Sea Eagle within his compositions as if the artist himself is a witness to the ancestral creation. The notion is reinforced by the aerial perspective of the landscape adopted by Munduwalawala. It sits between a plan view of the land (as if seen directly from above and common in traditional Aboriginal paintings), and the profile view of European art.
Another recurring motif in Munduwalawala's work is the Shark Liver tree that is not a natural tree but a ritual construction. It is usually shown between two guardian snakes. The tree was created from the liver of Yulmunji, the ancestral shark that connects the artist's mother's country to that of the Djambarrpuyngu and the Dhudi-Djapu clans whose lands lie further north in Arnhem Land.