Yornadaiyn Woolagoodja: Gerwarlee Waidju: Donny Woolagoodja : Mine, the Way I Do It
Short St Gallery is honoured to present a solo exhibition by Yorndaiyn (Donny) Woolagoodja. Donny Woolagoodja almost needs no introduction. He has been a finalist and winner in many awards over the years, his artwork was famously represented in the Sydney Olympics and his reach as a respected figure and artist is as wide as it is deep. Donny's art practice and its deep sense of connection to his culture is best explained in his own words.
'Lalai is in art. Art is a natural thing. It is special to do Woongudd and Wandjina paintings and very important for us to do it. We are putting something out there - making it stronger for the younger people. It is not like landscape or portrait. We are giving people the Culture and reminding them of it.
Sometimes Wandjina appear to me in dreams and say, 'You never come to see me.' They say, 'Why don't you come to my house to see me?' They give me the image, the picture, and then I do it. Sometimes they are bright and sometimes they are faded. I paint them on canvas after the dream. Sometimes they don't talk Woddordda but in other languages, like Yawjab or Oomeday or Oonggarddangoo, but I understand them. They want me to understand because nobody is painting them in their caves. Even if we just paint them on the canvas, they know that we are respecting them.
When we were moved to Wotjulum from Kunmunya, painting was forgotten. We create it back again now for the future generations who can keep doing it - to carry it on. Creating and re-creating the image keeps it alive - the image and the Culture. That is the difference. From my brain it goes to my hand and then the hand does all the work. The spirit guides me and then I know I have the right painting. Even if I am far from Country, I am still keeping the Wandjina happy and fresh, I am still looking after the Country. I am still following the same Lalai, not my own ideas.'
- From Yornadaiyn Woolagoodja. Available from Magabala Books, October 2020.