• Ŋaraka (Bones)
  • Ŋaraka (Bones)
  • Ŋaraka (Bones)

Wally Wilfred

Ŋaraka (Bones)

Regular price   

'Dijan ola ŋaraka wani insaid la mokuy, la Yolŋu en la enimul. Dismob impotin la melabat en la mela houmlen.'

'These are the bones inside the devil devil, Yolŋu and animals. These are very important to us and our homelands.'

The bones have their own songlines. When someone passes away they get the bones and they sing all day and then they bury them. That’s how they used to do it in the olden days. Then the boss one (junggayi) will make a totem stick for the grieving family. They cut a tree and paint it and decorate it with feathers. Then they dig a hole and stand up the totem sticks they painted. It stays there forever as memories for the family.’ – Wally Wilfred

  • Acrylic paint on paper
  • 76 x 56 cm
  • Cat No: 173-23

Wally Wilfred is a Wägilak man. His skin name is Wamut and his country is Ŋilipidji, near Blue Mud Bay. He was born at Mountain Valley, and he walked, ḻukudhu (on foot), with his family from there to Ngukurr and Numbulwar.

Since 2003, Wally Wilfred has been associated with Ngukurr Art Centre. Developing a unique style, Wally brings together traditional techniques with bold and contemporary use of colour. Continuing in the footsteps of his grandfather Sambo Barra Barra, Wally’s work explores traditional and present day culture with history and storytelling.

Wally paints on paper, ŋaḏan (bark) and dharpa (wood). He makes cultural artefacts from dubal (Leichhardt tree) and bulgut (kurrajong). He is also a keen sculptor, working with wood and found objects. Wally’s sculptures continue in the same path as his paintings. They tell stories, sometimes about culture, sometimes about the effect the munanga (white fella) have had on his people and country since they first arrived with their poisons; sugar, tobacco and beer.


Ngukurr Art Centre sits a stone’s throw from the banks of the Roper River in Ngukurr, South East Arnhem Land. The Art Centre, like the town of Ngukurr, is unique – bringing together people of many different clans and language groups including Ngalakgan, Alawa, Mangarrayi, Ngandi, Marra, Warndarrang, Nunggubuyu, Ritharrngu-Wägilak and Rembarrnga. Together these clans are known as Yugul Mangi.

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