Gunybi Ganambarr

Gunybi Ganambarr / Ngaymil people, Australia b.1973 / Nganmarra 2015 / Etched and polished water tank galvanised steel with paint / Purchased 2015 in memory of David Barnett through the Queensland Art Gallery of Modern Art Foundation / Collection: Queensland Art Gallery / QAGOMA Photography / © The artist

Gunybi Ganambarr's 12 years' experience of house-building at his remote outstation stand him in good stead to appreciate the potential in unusual materials for making art. His facility with a range of tools enables him to incise and shape large sheets of bark and work with various unlikely discarded materials. Such creative experimentation follows practices in north-eastern Arnhem Land since the 1930s when Yolngu began  recovering iron and steel from traders and shipwrecks to work into formidable spear blades.

For Nganmarra Gunybi has taken a panel from a disused galvanised iron water tank at Gangan where he lives, unbolted it and ground Ngaymil clan designs into the surface, which has then been sealed and polished. The dominant image at the top of the work is of the special woven container carried by creator ancestors, from which they spilled new life and the languages, laws and customs for people to live by.