Kerry Stokes Collection


13 February – 31 May 2009


Baluka Maymuru, 1947 –

Manggalili Monuk 2002 (detail)

earth pigments on naturally hollowed log, h. 256 cm

Kerry Stokes Collection, Perth

© The artist, courtesy of Buku Larrnggay-Mulka.

Since 2000, a forest of Larrakitj has been gradually taking shape in Perth. Now the public has the opportunity to see this unique collection of Larrakitj for the first time in this free exhibition at the Art Gallery of Western Australia. The Larrakitj collection displays work by Yolngu artists from North East Arnhem Land.

Larrakitj are sculptures that originate as trees in stringy bark forests. Hollowed out by termites, trees selected for Larrakitj are usually harvested after the dry season fires. A cultural cycle then begins as the trunks are smoothed and shaped until the surface is ready to be painted in ochres. Each Larrakitj, with its clan-specific imagery, is an imposing presence.

Covered in iconic imagery of sea and land, saltwater and freshwater, each Larrakitj presents a deeply layered experience of people, places and clans from Blue Mud Bay to Arnhem Bay.

The past decade has been revolutionary for Larrakitj, which are now among the most powerful aesthetic objects in contemporary Australian art. Their realm of importance now reaches beyond their deep cultural use as receptacles in traditional funeral rituals or their role as metaphor and symbol in the Yolngu conceptual universe.


On display are works by men and women from two generations. The exhibition contains and promotes an energizing conversation about the public and personal, the past and the present, about tradition and innovation.

The artists in this exhibition are represented by Buku-Larrnggay Mulka, a Yolngu-owned arts centre and cultural hub of Yirrkala, an Indigenous township on the west side of the Gulf of Carpentaria.



Larrakitj: Kerry Stokes Collection is curated by Anne Brody, Associate Curator of the Kerry Stokes Collection.


Larrakitj is presented by the Art Gallery of Western Australia and Australian Capital Equity and is a feature exhibition of the

2009 Perth International Arts Festival.




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