My Totem Dream by Daniel Warrulukuma

My Totem Dream

Daniel Warrulukuma’s ‘My Totem Dream‘ tells the story of two lands – his father’s country Reny on the left side and his mother’s country Nyalyindi on the right. The Reny side is full of salt water totems, including baru (crocodile), ratjuk (barramundi), djikarra (catfish), gudurrlke (brolga), and gumang (magpie goose). These animals are commonly found amongst the salt waters of the Glyde River which flows through Reny. The Nyalyindi side features gandayala (kangaroo), banda (long-neck turtle), min min (white cockatoo), wukutj (goanna) watdu (dingo), detong (buffalo) and nor nor (pig). These totems are more common to the dry and jungle lands of Nyalyindi. These are all Daniel’s totems. As expressed himself, “Just like my house, my car, my phone – these animals belong to me, that is why I paint them.” When Daniel passes away, he will be buried in one of these two countries. This painting is a depiction of a far greater story. For example, the inclusion of the pig and the dingo tells the story of balanda coming in to Arnhem Land and introducing new animals. It also tells the story of Daniel’s grandfather, who was given black magic and was turned into buffalo. These are a few of the many stories included in this painting.