- 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.