- Region: The Kimberleys
- State: Western Australia
- Born: 1920c
- Died: 2009
- Art Centre: Mangkaja Arts Resource Agency
Subject & ThemesAfternoon rain, coolamon, warda, boab nuts, Paddock pocket, Dilly bag, bush plums, waterlilies
Subject & ThemesMelanesian influence. Denis's linocuts, etchings and sculptures derive from his wood-carving experiences on Badu Island. He is inspired by coastal life, family, traditional medicines and the myths and legends of the Torres Strait.
Story: The sculpture depicts two species of Stingray, Guuwerr (the bronze stingray) and Tupmul (the aluminium stingray). While out fishing or diving the local people would see the stingrays leaping out of the water. This action of the stingray is an indicator of an imminent change in weather conditions. When observed during times of rough weather (Muturuka) it indicates a change to calm conditions. This would be a very important for a community that uses the water every day
The action of the stingrays represents a spiritual connection between these sea creatures and man. In the moment the stingrays are airborne and before the flop back to the surface of the water, islanders of a particular totem will instinctly utter the word, Gubaka. Traditionally, Gubaka was the preserve of the person of the Tupmul Augad (totem) who was one of several men representing other island totems who sat in the Kwod (the Western equivalent of a parliament). Tupmul is the artist's totem and is one of the main totems on his island of Badu. The two different metals used in the sculpture reflect the different colours of the two stingray species. Tupmul is pale white in colour while Guuwerr is a darkish brown. In creating the sculpture the artist has reflected on the synchronicity or affinity that exists between the sea creature and the man that possesses its totem.
was born in 1968 in Darwin. He is the son of artist Barbara Weir, and grandson of the late Minnie Pwerle, Freddie Purla began painting in 1989 at Alice Springs.
Purla regularly visited Utopia with his family as a very young child, often staying for long periods before travelling to Alice springs or Adelaide. One of his first vivid memories as a child was of the strange looking creature, the Scorpion.
The Scorpion Dreaming has been passed down to Freddie by his grandmother’s family. As it’s sting is often very painful, the scorpion is left undisturbed and respected at all times. It is rarely seen during the day and only the desert sands display the signs of the scorpion’s track.
Purla’s paintings represent the courtship dance between the male and female scorpion. Each scorpion interlock their pincers together while traveling back and forth in what can only be described as a dance. After several hours and as much as 24 hours, the tracks that are left behind create an artwork in itself on the ground. The tracks which are criss-crossed over and over again are rare to find in the desert. Freddie’s paintings powerfully represent the energy and vigour of the many movements made by the scorpions in their ritual desert dance.