Men in Mourning from the series Ritual and Ceremony by Maree Clarke. 2011. Courtesy of the artist and Vivien Anderson Gallery

Linear Artists: Mr Ngallametta Jnr

My family are from the saltwater, All the paintings that I do, The white represents the saltwater, And the red represents the sun, When the sun sinks down on the saltwater. I am a song man, And a traditional dancer as well. I am the eldest son, And do the singing and dancing as well. Of course, I was bred and born in Aurukun, my father was originally from Pormpuraaw.

With my art I have travelled around, Australia and overseas, With my art, I have been to places like China, Hong Kong, And took some of them herbs, bush medicine.

My paintings — the ochre, We go out to the salt plains, And dig down into the ground, And find the yellow ochre, And pick it up, And put it in a pile, And take it home, Make a fire, And cook them on the coals. From the yellow it turns into red. Traditional dancing uses the paint as well, I am a song man, dancer and a singer, My father gave his knowledge to me, And me, to my son. All the traditional ways of learning.

When I was a kid my father used to come and sing, When I used to go to sleep it goes in my head, The words, what it means. I can speak Wik, Mungkan, Aurukun, My father is from Pormpuraaw, I can speak both languages, Aurukun, Pormpuraaw, And even my mother’s side, Thaayorre. English is my fourth language.