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England Bangala / Sugar Bag Man

77cm x 57cm Ochre on Arches Paper, 1992

SKU: 4279

$3,250.00

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England Bangala attended Milingimbi Methodist Mission school spasmodically when he was young, and later worked as a farmer and carpenter at his lonely outstation, sometimes he went to Oenpelli to earn money as a buffalo shooter. Eventually Bangala married his promised girl wife and fathered 4 boys and 3 girls. Two of the girls have since passed away. England was a fully initiated elder of his tribe and the foremost recorder on bark and on Arches Rives paper of the history and religion of his ancestors. He was always at the forefront of tribal ceremonies because of his wisdom and knowledge. He was taught to paint by his father, also a famous bark painter.

The art of Bangala is hanging in major art galleries and museums and is featured in authentic art books. He has exhibited in most Australian states, and has also travelled with dance groups as a talented performer, singing and dancing in the traditional tribal way.

Collections
Artbank, Sydney.
Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney.
Art Gallery of South Australia, Adelaide.
Art Gallery of Western Australia, Perth.
Central Collection, Australian National University, Canberra.
Christensen Collection, held Museum of Victoria, Melbourne.
Djomi Museum, Maningrida.
Gold Coast City Art Gallery, Surfers Paradise, Queensland.
Museum and Art Gallery of the Northern Territory, Darwin.
Museum of Contemporary Art, Maningrida Collection, Sydney.
Museum of Victoria, Melbourne.
National Gallery of Australia, Canberra.
National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne.
The Holmes a Court Collection, Perth.

In the Dreamtime a man called Anwadi lived near the Mann River, about 150 miles from Oenpelli on the way to Maningrida in Central Arnhem Land.

He became known as the ‘sugar bag man’ because of his ability to find swarms of small black bees circling around dead branches, indicating the presence of wild honey. Once having located such a tree he would cut down the dead branch with a stone axe, and scoop out the beeswax and sweet wild honey in the hive. Dilly bags made from pandanus, woven so tightly that no honey can seep through are often depicted in the paintings.

He decided to travel throughout western Arnhem Land teaching other people his skills, and eventually came to an area known as Marlgawo. lt was a land of rocky escarpments and plunging waterfalls, so he told his family they would all settle there. However two birds (wakwak) shouted out to Anwadi that the country belonged to them and they would not allow him to settle there. When Anwadi refused to move on, the birds hurled stone axes at him and his family, cutting off their legs. Anwadi retaliated by killing the birds with stones, and they turned to rock.

The Sugar Bag people settled down happily, learning how to walk around without legs and still continue to find wild honey. Eventually they all died and turned into trees or rocks, where their spirits live on forever.

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