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Madayin: Eight Decades of Aboriginal Australian Bark Painting from Yirrkala

Madayin: Eight Decades of Aboriginal Australian Bark Painting from Yirrkala

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Publisher: Delmonico Books, 2022.  ISBN: 9781636810553, Format: Hardcover, 223 x 305, 284pp.

This volume chronicles the rise of a globally significant art movement, as told from the perspective of the Yolngu people of northeastern Australia. It presents more than 90 iconic paintings on eucalyptus bark, many of which have never been seen outside of Australia. This outpouring of creativity continues to this day as artists find new and innovative ways to transform their ancient clan designs into compelling contemporary statements that are chronicled in this singular publication.

For millennia, Yolngu people around Yirrkala in northern Australia have painted their sacred clan designs on their bodies and ceremonial objects. These designs—called miny’tji—are not merely decorative: they are the sacred patterns of the ancestral land itself. Yolngu people describe them as madayin: a term that encompasses both the sacred and the beautiful. With the arrival of Europeans in the 20th century, Yolngu people turned to the medium of painting on eucalyptus bark with ochres.