David MALANGI DAYMIRRINGU
Australia 1927 – 1999
The serpent that bit Gurrmirringu
- Central black tree, bird at top, snakes at bottom and tortoise
Ramingining, central Arnhem Land, Northern Territory, Australia
Painting, Bark painting, natural pigments on eucalyptus bark
97.5 h x 56.0 w cm
Purchased from Gallery admission charges 1987
Accession No: NGA 87.202
© David Malangi Daymirringu. Licensed by Viscopy
One day, Gurrmirringu was carrying home the fruits of a good day’s hunting when he rested by a waterhole in the shade of a wurrumbuku [white berry tree] to cook some of his catch. Some stories record that an evil spirit lurked in the trees roots causing a king brown snake to rise from the roots and bite Gurrmirringu, killing him.
The evil tree spirit was an occasional subject of Malangi’s. The evil connotation was expressed in painting by a beaked and clawed diagonal figure and jagged forms merging with the gnarled tree forms.
Text © National Gallery of Australia, Canberra 2010