Animal Enigmas: Mullet

Now your dreaming is mullet [fish].

Mullet is travelling ocean to ocean, creek to creek, river to river. 

Representing you and I when we travel, looking for our destiny. 

Words of Wukun Wanambi - British Museum exhibition, "Larrakitj" - April 2015

In the time it takes me to bring a work from first idea to final brushstroke it's meaning to me can change many times over, often within a heartbeat and back again before I've blinked. It is an endless tidal cycle of revelations and understandings that come and go, pulling and tugging at the differences between what I think and what I feel in any given instant. 

The artwork itself, once painted, is impossible to change and yet its meaning constantly shifts like sand in a current so that each approach is coloured by inflections of situation, relationship and chance. In this way I find layers of meaning are added and subtracted to a work in an endless eddying of physical awareness and intangible perception.  

Which is how I found myself in the British Museum the other day, absorbed in a mini exhibition on the Australian aboriginal tradition of larrakitj, taking a winding blow to the gut as I realised how an intuitive decision to add fish to a painting (randomly and for surreal effect) might now be layered with interpretations and meanings I'd never formally considered: caught as it was from a sea of stories lapping against shores distant in place and ancient in history.

I do not say that this adds a 'forever' meaning to this painting - or even a meaning that you, yourself, might see or want to share. That is for you to decide, from where you stand and from within the circle of your own experience and perception. 

I only say that, for me, in coming across the words of Wukun Wanambi I found a prism through which I might better understand a peice of myself and, through which I might better comprehend the iconography I reach for when words are not enough.  

And, in that moment of revelation, a painting which I had considered 'finished' was re-imagined as a work in progress with the potential to evolve further, more nuanced layers of meaning over time. 

Like mullet on the larrakitj, like fish leaping through water, like a girl within a teacup 

dancing on the waves through a storm of dreams: we are all looking for our destiny.


Storm in a Teacup, 2015

Learn more:

British Museum: Larrakitj Aboriginal Memorial Poles by Wukun Wanambi

Wukun Wanambi, the Artist

All images and site content © mjhodge