Australia 1936 – 2010
Flying fox (Red Back)
Aurukun, Cape York Peninsula, Queensland, Australia
Materials & Technique: sculptures, natural earth pigments on wood
Pambegan Jr has been making art for the commercial art market for many years, reafﬁrming his identity out of the soft milkwood trees that are abundant in the area and perfect for carving. Included in this exhibition are the ﬁrst canvases that he has ever painted. These diptyches are the body paint designs of the Walkaln-aw and Kalbenused by the Winchanam people. These canvases symbolise the skin of their painted bodies before they go into ceremony. The Flying fox installation illustrates a story relating to Pambegan Jr’s traditional country. The sculpture describes the ﬁrst stage of initiation, uchanam, and refers to the story of two young initiates who disobeyed the law of the elders. They went hunting ﬂying foxes and killed too many for cooking. So when the initiates were waiting for their meal to cook, the ﬂying foxes returned and took them up into the sky. The two boys turned into ﬂying foxes and never return.
Text © National Gallery of Australia, Canberra