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The National Portrait Gallery acknowledges the Traditional Custodians of Country throughout Australia and recognises the continuing connection to lands, waters and communities. We pay our respect to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures and to Elders both past and present.

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Dayiwool Ngarranggarni (Arygle dreaming), 2018

by Shirley Purdie

“These three woman (three circles), they been rolling that spinifex by the water and that barramundi been jump through (the hills). This country is for my other great-great grandmother, that’s for my mother for grandmother, my mother’s father’s mother.”

The country Shirley illustrates here is Dayiwool or Argyle. That was Shirley’s maternal great-grandmother’s country. Shirley paints the Ngarranggarni associated with her great-grandmother’s country. In this dreaming, there were three women rolling spinifex, which is depicted by the green ochre. The barramundi jumped through the gap between the hills. A long time ago, there was no gap in those hills, and the story of the barramundi explains how the gap formed between those hills. Also, a long time ago, when Gija people used to go fishing, barramundi would get stuck while trying to swim through the spinifex, which was used as a net. There is a song for this dreaming, which Shirley has been taught to sing, and often performs nowadays at Argyle, during Welcome to Country ceremonies.

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The National Portrait Gallery acknowledges the Traditional Custodians of Country throughout Australia and recognises the continuing connection to lands, waters and communities. We pay our respect to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures and to Elders past and present. We respectfully advise that this site includes works by, images of, names of, voices of and references to deceased people.

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