language: Yolŋu, Anindilyakwa
mother country: Yirrkala
father country: Yarrinya
dance: Mirinyungu (Ancestral Whale)
Daniel is a Yolŋu man who was was born in Yirrkala and grew up as a young boy at his family’s homeland of Rurrangala in North East Arnhem land. Now living with his Anindilyakwa wife and daughter in Angurugu, Daniel is an Arts and Cultural officer and talented artist in Angurugu.
Daniel work across multiple mediums, best known for creating contemporary takes on old stories, such as his whale tail hollow logs. Daniel’s father, Dula Ngurruwuthun, was an accomplished painter and has works in national institutions such as the NGA. Daniel is inspired to follow in his fathers footsteps and has taken up the skills, imagery and process taught to him by his father.
Daniel's favourite story to depict is that of the Mirinyungu (Ancestral Whale), as passed to him by his father:
In Wangarr times, Mirinyungu lived in the ocean at Yarrinya in Munyuku clan country. The whale’s ‘brothers’, Munyuku spirit men, killed Mirinyungu with Garapana (stone knives), severing the tail and cutting the body into long strips, contaminating the beach. The bones of Mirinyungu – that is, its essence or soul – are said to have become part of Garapana, a sacred rock in the ocean.
Consequently, the character of the salt-water at Yarrinya, represented here by the miny’tji (sacred clan designs), is ‘rough with the odour of death hanging over it’. In this bark painting, the bones occupy a sea composed of radiating waves of dotted miny’tji traversed by mysterious currents. In reality, Garapana, a dangerous, forbidden place, lies below this water. Here, it is revealed on the surface of the water, as a strange, anthropomorphic arrangement of whale bones. An additional layer of meaning is Daniel's identification as a Munyuku clan member, with custodianship responsibilities at Yarrinya.