Family tale told in wood

Robby Wirramanda with sons Hickson, partner Jackie, Grayson and Jackson with one of his paintings at the Melbourne Water offices.

Robby Wirramanda with sons Hickson, partner Jackie, Grayson and Jackson with one of his paintings at the Melbourne Water offices.

Chinkapook artist Robby Wirramanda is making big waves in the art world with his unique take on the indigenous form.

Mr Wirramanda and his family are working on a special project that incorporates wood and photography to tell the story of his ancestors' travel across the Mallee. 

Using carved trees to represent a "guli" (group of people), the art represents his ancestors journey from Millewa on the Murray River to Direl to Lake Tyrrell.

Mr Wirramanda said he found it "easy" to tell stories of his ancestors through his art.

An example of Robby's art entitled: "Njanjera direl direlug - to observe sky, heaven". the art represents the place to observe heaven, talk to the ancestors and gather energy.

An example of Robby's art entitled: "Njanjera direl direlug - to observe sky, heaven". the art represents the place to observe heaven, talk to the ancestors and gather energy.

"The hard part is choosing a medium to work with that will make it easy to translate to your audience," he said.

Having created art since he was a child, Mr Wirranmada sold his first piece to the Melbourne Museum 20 years ago. 

He now has has two works on display at the museum, an emu feather cloak and a kangaroo hide mask.

Both pieces were inspired by a story told by his great-great-grandmother in the language of her Wotjobuluk clan, part of the Wergaia nation of the Lake Tyrrell area.

Mr Wirramanda also has works on display at galleries in Melbourne, as well as Melbourne Water offices, St Kilda Town Hall and the Koori Heritage Trust at Federation Square.

To read more about this story, grab a copy of Monday's Guardian (February 20).

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