Karrang Kunred/Mother Land unites 3 senior Kuninjku women of the Kurulk clan, sisters Jennifer Wurrkidj and Deborah Wurrkidj and aunt Susan Marawarr. Artistic boundaries are pushed for the first time in this exhibition by connecting traditional bark paintings and lorrkon alongside experimental textile prints.
Karrang Kunred in Kuninjku means “mother’s homeland” or “the country of my mother.” The women chose this title for their exhibition as the women share one ‘mother country’ – the stone country in West Arnhem Land, near Mumeka and Barrihdjowkkeng homelands. The Kuninjku homelands comprise rocky sandstone escarpments scattered with rock art, dense paper bark forest, freshwater rivers and seasonal floodplains. The palette of country is shown throughout this exhibition, with paintings featuring only natural pigments collected on country and the textiles mirror these hues.
In general speech, the artists refer to this country as their ‘mother’, which reveals the deep cultural connection to place. As Deborah Wurrkidj speaking about the significance of Karrang Kunred says: “We are thinking about our land. Our thoughts always return to our homeland. The old people, they taught us all this a long time ago. My father’s sisters, my mother’s mother and my aunties, they taught us, and now we know.”
All 3 women are from a strong line of Kuninjku artists who live on homelands and in Maningrida, Arnhem Land. The Wurrkidj sisters’ uncle James Iyuna, who taught his two nieces how to paint, is featured in collections internationally. Susan Marawarr is sister to world-renowned artist John Marwurndjul. Susan Marawarr featured in the acclaimed Crossing Country, (AGNSW 2004), yet very little work by Kuninkju women artists has been seen in a solo context.