Yukuwa is one of the personal names of the artist and Yukuwa is the topic of this work. Almost a self-portrait. This motif first arose when she had been challenged about her right to paint buyku, the fishtrap imagery of her own clan and homeland, by a family member. Rather than argue she retorted by painting imagery that in one sense is her own personal identity.
This piece is a reference to Yirritja renewal ceremony, which is by definition a shared communion of Yirritja moiety clans, which does not relate to circumcision or mortuary rites. There are relationships between Yirritja moiety clans, which are renewed through Yukuwa ceremony at particular sites, which relate to the ritual exchange of sacred objects, song and dance. Yukuwa is a yam whose annual reappearance is a metaphor for the increase and renewal of the people and their land. Traditionally the invitation to such a ceremony is presented as an object in the form of a yam with strings emanating from it with feathered flowers at the end. This is a suggestion of the kinship lines that tie groups together.
The site referred to in this piece is in the area between Gangan and the sea known as Balambala, described as the next river from Gangan. This is a cleared area, which is an ancient ceremonial site where special men’s ceremony involving both larrakitj (or dhan’parr – bark coffin) and special yidaki occurred. An ancient hero known as Burruluburrulu danced here. It is described as a meeting place for Dhalwangu, top Madarrpa (Dholpuyngu) and Munyuku.
(Buku-Larrnggay Mulka Centre)