Wakih (fresh water prawns), by Reuben Manakgu - Injalak Arts

Artist - Reuben Manakgu

Reuben (b. 1965) is a Bininj man of the Mandjuringunj clan. His language is Kunwinjku, and his country is Mangardubu. As Injalak’s screenprint production manager, Reuben is in charge of a small and dedicated team of Bininj men. His graceful character and artistic eye can be noted in his management skills, technical screenprint knowhow and talent for creating beautiful design colourways.

Art Story

Wakih (Leptopalaemon gagadjui) is a freshwater prawn found only in West Arnhem Land, hence the species name ‘gagadjui’ derived from Gagudju, the Indigenous name for the language and people of Kakadu. Bininj (West Arnhem Aboriginal people) still catch it today, in deep billabongs and waterways.

A lot of wakih can be caught in the creeks of Reuben’s country - Mangardubu - north of Gunbalanya. He catches them with a throw net or a piece of meat on the end of a fishing line and entices them into the shallows where they can be speared. The silhouette style used in this design is ancient in origin and common in the rock art of West Arnhem Land. 

Art Centre

This design is printed by the men and women at Injalak Arts; a non-profit Aboriginal-owned social enterprise in Gunbalanya, West Arnhem Land. Injalak Arts officially opened in November 1989. Before this - artists screenprinted in a small shed. Injalak artists and weavers work outside under trees, and under the long verandahs on either side of the Art Centre; screen printers work in the new purpose built screen-printing room.

Indigenous community art centres play an important role in the artistic and cultural life of traditional Aboriginal artists living in remote communities. Injalak Arts is an outstanding example of a community organisation that is 100% Aboriginal owned and delivers positive social, economic and cultural outcomes for its members.

Injalak Arts has around 200 active members – artists and weavers from Gunbalanya and surrounding outstations. While based in Gunbalanya, Injalak supports members who live at outstations (regularly travelling to Manmoyi, Mamadawerre and Kabulwarnamyo), thereby generating livelihoods for many individuals and families.

Bio, photo and art story provided by Inajalak Arts. Read more and shop online here: injalak.com