Balnhdhurr – A Lasting Impression

‘Balnhdhurr – A Lasting Impression’ celebrates 20 years of printmaking at Yirrkala Print Space, in the Baku-Larrnggay Mulka Art Centre in Northeast Arnhem Land; proving that this ancient craft has not only survived through the ages, but prospered. Curated by Annie Studd, this exhibition showcases the Yolngu respect for clan and country, with many prints relating to the creation stories and Law as passed on by ancestors, highlighting the importance of kinship and family. With works from 50 artists, ‘Balnhdhurr’ takes the viewer on a visual journey, creating a platform for meaningful dialogue between Indigenous and nonIndigenous people. It is a coming together of cultures and time, where audiences have the chance to learn of the Yolngu’s strong tradition in artwork and how their skills, talent and creativity have translated to printmaking. Pieces in this exhibition also reveal the significant impact the introduction of bright acrylics had on artists, which allowed them to explore a whole new genre of artistic storytelling.

Gaymala Yunupingu, Djirkitj, 1998, screenprint, 40 x 40cm. Courtesy the artist and Yirrkala Print Space, Northern Territory

The exhibition title, ‘Balnhdhurr’, translates to a mark made as a sign for people to follow – where one group goes ahead but wants to leave a message for those behind. An impression is scratched into the ground directing the future viewer to follow the right path. In this way, printmaking provides a medium for passing on knowledge to younger generations, to keep culture and history and identity alive and strong, while at the same time creating a conversation between the Yolngu people of Northeast Arnhem Land and the national and international community.

With over 800 editions by 137 artists produced through the studio since it began in 1995, Yirrkala Print Space has become an integral and vital component of the community. Yirrkala Print Space Artists include: Dhuwarrwarr Marika, Marrnyula Mununggurr, Nyapanyapa Yunupingu, Gaymala Yunupingu, Naminapu Maymuru-White, Manunu Wunungmurra, Dundiwuy Wunungmurra, Barrupu Yunupingu, Nongirrnga Marawili, Djambawa Marawili, Gulumbu Yunupingu, Galarrwuy Yunupingu, Gawirrin Gumana, Dhuwarrwarr Marika, Mulkun Wirrpanda, Gundimulk Wanambi, Djerrkngu Marika, Nyangungu Marawili, Dhunhdhunga Mununggurr, Munuy’ngu Marika, Burrthi Marika, Milika Marika, Djakala Wurramarrba, Muluyulk#2 Marika, Bulmirri Yunupingu, Gunybi Ganambarr, Banduk Marika, Ruby Djikarra Alderton, Naminuapu#2 Maymuru, Naminapu#1 Maymuru-White, Barrupu Yunupingu, Laklak#2 Ganambarr, Boliny Wanambi, Nawurapu Wunungmurra, Yalmakany Marawili, Mikey Gurruwiwi, Ishmael Marika, Djuwakan#2 Marika, Dhalmula Burarrwanga, Gandhurrminy Yunupingu, Barrata Marika, Gurmarrwuy Yunupingu, Malaluba Gumana, Djalinda Yunupingu, Wukun Wanambi, Garawan Wanambi and Djirrirra Wunungmurra.

Nongirrnga Marawili, Teacup, 2013. Courtesy the artist and Yirrkala Print Space, Northern Territory

Utilising the digital as an inclusive and dynamic way to introduce visitors to ‘Balnhdhurr – A Lasting Impression’, a free smartphone app has been developed to accompany the exhibition. The app features audio descriptions of selected works, a video tour of Miwatj country and educational activities – providing a more in-depth interaction with the history and context of Yirrkala Print Studio, and engagement with the artists, artworks, Yolgnu language and culture. An Artback NT touring exhibition since 2017, ‘Balnhdhurr – A Lasting Impression’ will make its final stop at Godinymayin Yijard Rivers Arts and Culture Centre in Northern Territory from 31 July to 12  September 2020.