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Wak (Black Crow Ancestor)

This etching depicts a sacred site at Kurrurldul, an outstation south of Maningrida. The work represents the crow totem ancestor called Djimarr. Today this being exists in the form of a rock, which is permanently submerged at the bottom of Kurrurldul Creek. “Wak was a black crow, long time ago and she turned to stone. This sacred site now in the water and on our country. Now Wak stays forever in that stone. That rock has got three holes in it.” The Djimarr rock in the stream at Kurrurldul is said to move around and call out in a soft hooting tone at night. Both the stone itself and the area around it are considered sacred. This imagery of the stone, is the final transmutation of the dreaming ancestor Djimarr. The fine cross-hatching shown in the design is a technique called rarrk painting, which is a tradition shared by generations of Kuninjku artists. “This is same rarrk style I do like dolopo (stringy-bark painting). Wak is same like rock but sacred site. Our Kurrurldul homeland, we are all sharing that place, our land’

Name: Deborah Wurrkidj

Language: Kuninjku

Community: Maningrida


Deborah Wurrkidj was born in 1971 at Maningrida in north-central Arnhem Land. Her language is Kuninjku and her moiety is Duwa. Deborah is well known for her fibre weaving, bark painting, woodcarving and printmaking.

Deborah is a versatile artist who has readily adapted to new art forms while retaining strong clan traditions. Her work is tactile and intricate and illustrates the artistic innovation that has occurred in Maningrida over the last 30 years.

Alongside her highly regarded fine art practice Deborah, with her mother, Helen Lanyinwanga, and sister Jennifer Wurrkidj has been working at Bábbarra Designs since 1991. She is a leading textile artist and an integral member of Bábbarra Women’s Centre.


Deborah has exhibited nationally including the 19th Telstra National Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Art Award in 2002 and is represented in a number of state and private collections.


© the artist / art centre