- Name Kenan Namundja / Namunjdja
- Skin name Kodjok
- Clan Kardbam
- Born 1989
- Language group Bininj-Kunwok
- Community Maningrida, NT
Turtle & Echidna Story
The long-necked turtle and the echidna were two best friends. The echidna had a baby. Turtle and echidna lived together near the billabong. They went hunting and shared their food together. One day they ran out of food. Echidna told her friend turtle to look after her baby while she went out hunting for food. So echidna went out. Turtle stayed to wait with the baby. After a long time had passed, turtle was wondering what had happened to her friend echidna. Turtle was getting very hungry. She couldn’t wait for echidna to return with food from hunting, so she ate echidna’s baby. Then echidna came back. She gave some of her food to turtle and asked her, “Where’s my baby?” Turtle said, “I’m sorry, but I ate your baby because I was so very hungry.”
A fight began. Echidna threw the stones at turtle, and the stones stuck on turtle’s back. Turtle threw the spear grass at echidna, and the spears stuck on echidna’s back. And they fought all day. The stones formed into a hard shell on turtle’s back. The spears formed into spines on echidna’s back. After that turtle told echidna, “I will go and live in the billabong and never see you again.” Echidna told turtle, “And I will go and live in the escarpment country, and I’ll never see you again.” This is how the long-necked turtle got her hard shell on her back, and the echidna got her spines on her back. And this is why the turtle and the echidna live in separate places.
Kenan Namundja Biography
Kenan Namunjdja is the eldest son of artists Bulanj (1965-2018) and Deborah Yulidjirri (daughter of Thompson Yulidjirri). Trained by his father who was nationally and internationally recognised for his particularly fine rarrk and depiction of the kunkurra (spiralling wind). His paternal grandfather, Peter Marralwanga (1916-1987), was also celebrated bark painter and a leader in the 1970’s Outstation movement returning family to clan country. Kenan continues this strong legacy, through his exceptionally fine mark-making in depicting the djang of his country, Mankorlod. Kenan’s father’s brother is Glen Namundja who lives in Gunbalanya (Oenpelli) and is a member of Injalak Arts.
Kenan spent a number of months in Darwin at the beginning of 2023 as he waited for major repairs to his Prado’s motor and then for the road back to Maningrida to become passable again. During this time he created a number of artworks for Songlines. Felicity had worked closely with Kenan’s father in the early 1990s when she was the first manager of Injalak Arts (1991-95). In 1994 they had take a trip to Sydney for an exhibition and visited Taronga Zoo. Later the family moved further east to live in their homeland. Tragically Kenan’s father died a few years ago from a heart attack when he was in his early 50s.
Namundja rose to prominence pre-pandemic, when his work was selected by curator Mitch Cairns for inclusion in PRIMAVERA at the Museum of Contemporary Art.