Arafura Swamp Story by Bobby BununggurrSold

Arafura Swamp Story

This painting depicts the story of the Arafura swamplands and it’s people. Bobby Bunungurr was born in the bush in the Arafura region of north east arnhem land and uses his paintings to tell the stories of his homeland and his culture to keep the knowledge alive for future generations. The painting tells the story of the swamp as well as being directly connected to Bobby’s own life and experiences. He is a man of the bush, this is his home and his story. Bobby is part of two worlds, the western big city world and the world of his homeland in Arnhem land and this fusion can be seen in his distinct style of painting that visually, also appears to be a blend of both worlds. He says, we are all people, one red blood. Bobby himself was born in the bush and describes himself as a traditional man, still very much living under aboriginal law. Despite travelling and staying long periods in cities all over the world, he always returns to his homeland and to the bush and will always remember where he comes from and the knowledge of his land and people. This painting emphasises the ongoing existence of aboriginal law and culture in the area and the wish to preserve this. It is about how people like Bobby have not forgotten their law and knowledge and how they continue to tell these stories through songs, and this painting is like a script for the songs that hold this knowledge. It depicts the animals and plants that are part of his story and that are part of these songs. Bobby has included Gumang (magpie geese) as well as mapu (magpie goose eggs) as well as Bak’biddidi (rocket frogs) which are all animals from the Arafura swamp region. The scene also depicts a group of people, perhaps out hunting. One man stands in the foreground holding a woomera (spear thrower) and tells the others to slow down and observe what is around them, to look out for tracks and animals that they could hunt or to keep an eye out for predators like baru (crocodiles). The painting tells the story of the swamp generally, as well as being directly connected to Bobby’s own life and experiences. He is a man of the bush. This is his home and his story. Bobby see’s both worlds, the western big city world and the world of his homeland in Arnhem land. This fusion can be seen in his distinct style of painting that visually, also appears to be a blend of both worlds. He says we are all people, one red blood. Bobby himself was born in the bush and describes himself as a traditional man, still very much living under aboriginal law. Despite travelling and staying long periods in cities all over the world, he always returns to his homeland and to the bush and will always remember where he comes from and the knowledge of his land and people.