Balnhdhurr is a word in the Yolngu Matha language that translates to a situation where one group goes ahead but wants to leave a message for those following behind.
In the far Eastern corner of Arnhem Land sits Yirrkala Print Space, where, for over twenty years, the art of printmaking has prospered. Balnhdhurr – A Lasting Impression celebrates this space with works from 50 artists, providing a privileged insight into the nuanced world of Yolngu people of Northeast Arnhem Land.
With works from 50 artists, Balnhdhurr – A Lasting Impression includes prints that are historically significant. The Berndt Etchings series talks about the Berndt Crayon Drawings of Yirrkala, produced by the artists’ predecessors in 1947, while String Figure Prints are a response to another archaeological collection from 1948. 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 that became a joyous explosion of colour and expression.
Every print has to be the design of the artist’s own clan or connecting clan. The design has to be done very carefully so as not to mix them up, and to understand their story. We have to talk about it with other people in that clan, so when the design is printed there is no problem. It’s a similar idea to the traditional designs used in the bark paintings and the wood carving, but in printmaking we get the direction from our elders to design the image of the outside story only. In the workshop a lot of Yolngu come and watch what we do in the print studio so they can understand the process.Marrnyula Mununggurr and Mundul Wunungmurra Mununggurr