• Ishmael Marika captured the play of sunlight on different elements in his film Sunlight Energy II
Multi-talented artist Ishmael Marika, from Yirrkala in the Northern Territory, has taken home both a NIMA and NATSIAA award this past weekend.
Emily Nicol

12 Aug 2016 - 10:24 AM  UPDATED 12 Aug 2016 - 10:24 AM

In the Traditional Song of the Year award at this year's National Indigenous Music Awards, Marika's winning entry was a recording of a traditional songline that has been in his family for over 5 generations. Two Sisters Journey tells a creation story, the setting of rules for living and communication between ancestral spirits.

Coming from a family that are well known for their involvement and leadership in the first land rights case in the 1970's, Ishmael has been acutely aware of the value of culture and passing on of knowledge. On his decision to record the song Ishmael told the National Indigenous Times “It’s really important for me because it reminds me of my grandfather because it was the 40th anniversary of Land Rights,” he said. “That’s why I think about my grandfather.”

Marika also won the Telstra Youth Award at the National Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Art Awards, also held in Darwin last weekend. His video entry of how he interpreted sunlight caught the judges attention. 

"Sunlight energy II by Ishmael Marika is a clear, well-constructed film that gives the viewer a strong sense of the way light influences the space around us. The work poetically shares Marika’s experience of feeling the energy from the sunlight at Lake Mungo while also incorporating the elements of earth, wind, fire and water and capturing how sunlight informs each." said the judges.

 “I’m in the middle,” Marika told NIT of film-making versus music. “I can go with the flow. So I can be a musician or film-maker.” 


In October 2015 I travelled with other Indigenous artists to Lake Mungo and we camped near the old people’s camp. I felt the energy of the sunlight. -Ishmael Marika

Marika has been gaining attention for quite some time  and has been selected to showcase his works in exhibitions both here and overseas. Another short film which he based on a nightmare and story shared around a campfire also gained popular attention and was screened on NITV. 'Galka' was conceived, produced and directed by Marika and shows the natural talent of the artist, who picked up a camera by chance several years ago at a local gathering. Check out a clip from Gulka.