The Federation Tapestry: Ngak Ngak in Limmen Bight River Country

This panel forms the second in the suite of tapestries which make up the Federation Tapestry.

Federation Tapestry: Ngak Ngak in Limmen Bight River Country

Ngak Ngak in Limmen Bight River Country

Ngak Ngak in Limmen Bight River Country is based on a painting by Northern Territory Aboriginal artist Ginger Riley Munduwalawala. It represents the Dreamtime and the land before European habitation, and reminds us that Aboriginal people have been associated with the land of Australia for over 40 000 years.

Artwork for Ngak Ngak in Limmen Bight River Country

Riley was born around 1937 in south-eastern Arnhem Land. He grew up in the bush and intermittently went to school at the Roper River Mission, now called the Ngukurr Aboriginal Community. Riley worked as a stockman and labourer from the 1950s to the late 1970s when he moved back to Ngukurr. Around 1987 he began to paint, and quickly established the pictorial style of landscape painting which has since earnt him important recognition both in Australia and overseas. In 1997 he was awarded a major retrospective exhibition at the National Gallery of Victoria. He died in September 2002. Riley’s painting depicts his vision of his ‘mother’s country’, using an interconnected series of icons which include the white sea eagle Ngak Ngak, the dual serpent-creator Garimala, the shark’s liver tree, the Four Arches and the beautiful Limmen Bight River.

Before work commenced on this panel, the weavers completed a number of samples. These samples allowed the weavers to experiment with borders and establish a suitable warp setting which would allow for subtlety of detail and colour in the work.

Samples for Ngak Ngak in Limmen Bight River Country

Samples for <I>Ngak Ngak in Limmen Bight River Country</I>

Samples against the Museum’s wall

The samples were examined against the dark grey concrete Museum wall where the tapestry now hangs so the weavers could determine the intensity of the colour required to maintain the vitality of the design.

Ngak Ngak in Limmen Bight River Country

Artist: Ginger Riley Munduwalawala, c. 1937–2002

Size: 200 x 273 cm

The Federation Tapestry was supported by the Commonwealth Government through the Federation Fund.

Further Reading

Latreille, Anne and Walker, Murray 2001. The Federation Tapestry: one people united in peace. Catalogue available from the Victorian Tapestry Workshop and the Melbourne Museum Shop

Walker, Sue (Ed.) 2000. Modern Australian Tapestries from the Victorian Tapestry. Workshop. The Beagle Press.

1995. Australian Tapestries from the Victorian Tapestry Workshop.

Brochures: Victorian Tapestry Workshop, Melbourne’s Marvellous Tapestries

Video: 1997 Contemporary Australian Tapestries from the Victorian Tapestry Workshop.

Comments (24)

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Stevo Edwards 13 September, 2009 17:24
Who is Ngak Ngak
Discovery Centre 14 September, 2009 15:17

Hi Stevo - Ngak Ngak is the name for the White-Breasted Sea Eagle (Haliaeetus leucogaster).

will 8 March, 2010 15:25
when was it made
Discovery Centre 9 March, 2010 15:53
Hi Will, the first link under the 'Related Resources' will give you all the details about the weaving of the tapestry, including the dates.
simon 14 March, 2010 19:32
why is ngak ngak in all of ginger rileys paintings
Discovery Centre 15 March, 2010 14:56

Hi Simon, I just completed a web search and found that Ngak Ngak, or the white breasted sea eagle, appears in many of Ginger Riley's paintings because he believed it acted as a lookout watching over his mother country.

bob 1 September, 2010 20:34
what material is it made from
Discovery Centre 2 September, 2010 15:22
spleneli 8 March, 2011 13:44
when was it made?
Random 19 June, 2011 15:53
where was it made
james 27 August, 2011 17:57
where is it now i need the info for an assingment
Dane 24 October, 2012 17:37
Where does Ginger Riley live?
doug 28 August, 2011 11:56
Where is the tapestrys current location
Discovery Centre 28 August, 2011 15:23
Hi Doug and James, panel number 2 from the Federation Tapestry is currently on display in the Melbourne Museum. It is hanging on the mezzanine level near the entrance to the Melbourne Gallery.
Doug 1 September, 2011 21:00
thanks and how long did the gnak gnaks in limmen bight river country take to make approximately.
Matt 11 October, 2012 12:41
What is it made out of?
Discovery Centre 13 October, 2012 15:16
Hi Matt, the tapestries were woven at the Australian Tapestry Workshop in Melbourne using Australian wool which is dyed on site.
Nathan 17 October, 2012 19:43
Where did Ginger live? plese give me the australian state and what is his 'country'
Discovery Centre 25 October, 2012 11:44

Hello Nathan and Dane,

As the above information sheet states, Ginger Riley passed away in 2002, the sheet also states where he was born and where he lived.

Frank 26 October, 2013 14:10
When was it made?
Discovery Centre 26 October, 2013 15:50

Hi Frank, check out the links at the top of the page and you will find out lots of information about the tapestry and when and how it was made.

Frank 26 October, 2013 14:19
What is the size of the tapestry
Natasha 1 August, 2016 09:38
What year was this published?
Discovery Centre 1 August, 2016 13:19
Hi Natasha - this web content was first published in April 2005 on an earlier version of this website, however if you were asking about the creation of the tapestry itself, we suggest you follow the links at the top right of the page under the Related Resources tab.
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