Elders and artists from Yirrkala in Arnhem Land have arrived in Sydney to see their ancestors drawings displayed on Gadigal land for the very first time.
Tara Callinan

11 Dec 2013 - 5:31 PM  UPDATED 12 Dec 2013 - 12:06 PM

Eighty-one vibrant crayon drawings about Yolngu law and land will be open for public viewing at the Art Gallery of NSW on Thursday, December12.

The Yirrkala Exhibition aims to share the secret beauty of Arnhem Land with the nation.

Ceremonial leader and custodian Waka Mununggurr retold the stories of Yolngu people which are represented in his father's artworks.

“To Yolngu, when I see a painting, I straight away know what the painting represents; what place, what people, rocks, rivers and the environment,” said Mr Mununggurr.

But elders fear that the land depicted in these drawings is being disturbed by the mining industry.

“Just recently they dumped something that it wasn’t there before, they destroyed the land, made the land upset and the people upset," said Aboriginal artist Naminapu Maymuru-White.

Mrs Maymuru-White has her own artwork, ‘Larrakitj,’ featured in the exhibition.

It is displayed to represent the contemporary culture of Yolngu.

She explained the importance of continuing traditions and representing Aboriginal people through vibrant colour.

“Black is the colour of our skin, yellow represents our flesh and red represents the blood and white represents our bones,” said Mrs Maymuru-White.

All 365 Yirrkala drawings are held in the Berndt Museum of Anthropology in West Australia, but will travel to Darwin and Brisbane early next year.