Rarriwuy Marika

Artist in Residence – Rarriwuy Marika

Week 4

This week we have been learning from our wonderful Artist in Residence, Rarriwuy Marika. Rarri has been telling us about her home in North Eastern Arnhem land and has been explaining the importance of language in her community. Rarri is an artist and teaches Yolngu Matha, the language of her Yolngu people at a school in Yirrkala.

‘This map attempts to represent all the language, social or nation groups of the Indigenous peoples of Australia.’ We have been talking about this particular map of Australia and how before European people landed in Botany Bay there were over 500 languages spoken across Australia from the north to the south, the east to the west. Now there are only around 30 languages remaining.

Rarriwuy Marika

As well as teaching us about her community and showing us the Yolngu design and painting techniques, Rarri has begun work on an art work that she will leave at our school.

We have been further exploring the way ancestral and creation stories have been passed down through generations through design, song and dance. Yolngu people have their own designs and use hatching and cross hatching.

Rarri is teaching the students how to create a design similar to these, above. She is taking them through a series of stages to produce their own work of art inspired by the Yolngu community.

This week we learnt how to create a wash base on our paper.

We used the colours of the land; red ochre, yellow ochre and black. Many students recognised the ochre colours as those in the Indigenous flag.

We then chose an Australian creature from the area around North Eastern Arnhem land to use as a central silhouette image in our work. We also used Wandjuk Marika’s Mururrama Song Cycle suite as inspiration.


Our work is now prepared for next week when Rarri will show us how to create pattern using the techniques of hatching and cross hatching.


The brushes made from human hair are difficult to use. They require the artist to be patient and focussed. Rarri showed us how her many years of painting have contributed to her expertise when painting with human hair, hand-made brushes. These brushes are very beautiful.


It has been wonderful watching Rarri make the brushes that we will use next week in our work. These are made using human hair. The 30 brushes we are using have been carefully made and crafted by Rarri and her family.



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