Image 'Garak the Universe - larrakitj', 2005

TLF ID M012453

This is a larrakitj (hollow funeral pole) sculpture created and painted by Yolngu artist Gulumbu Yunupingu. It depicts the universe ('Garak'); not only all the stars that can be seen with the naked eye but everything that exists beyond. The larrakitj is shown here in a colour image that can be enlarged and is accompanied by a detailed written commentary. Measuring 304 cm high and 25 cm in diameter and painted with natural earth pigments, the sculpture forms part of the collection of the National Gallery of Australia.

Educational details

Educational value
  • This is a valuable resource for the Responding strand of the visual arts curriculum in upper primary and secondary schooling, especially for those content descriptions that refer to students responding to the visual arts works of Australian artists, particularly Aboriginal artists, and considering the broader cultural context and significance of their work. Gulumbu Yunupingu (1945-2012) was an outstanding artist from north-east Arnhem Land whose bark paintings and larrakitj appear in national and international collections, including the Musee du Quai Branly in Paris.
  • The resource is of great value for the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander histories and cultures cross-curriculum priority. It exemplifies two of the priority's organising ideas in relation to Aboriginal people: firstly that Aboriginal peoples have unique belief systems and are spiritually connected to the land, sea, sky and waterways (in this case the sky); and secondly that Aboriginal peoples' ways of life are uniquely expressed through their ways of being, knowing, thinking and doing (in this case through creating arts works).
  • The resource may also be of value for the year 6 history curriculum, specifically for the content description about the contribution of individuals and groups, including Aboriginal people, to the development of Australian society in areas such as the arts.
  • The stars of the Milky Way and the universe as a whole were a particular focus of Gulumbu Yunupingu's work, with Garak a frequent subject of both barks and larrakitj. Although connected with traditional Yolgnu stories about the Milky Way, Yunupingu saw her Garak works as belonging to all humanity as all people look at the stars and think about what lies beyond.
Year level

6; 7; 8; 9; 10

Other details

  • Contributor
  • Name: Education Services Australia
  • Organization: Education Services Australia
  • Description: Data manager
  • Address: VIC, AUSTRALIA
  • URL:
  • Copyright Holder
  • Name: National Gallery of Australia
  • Organization: National Gallery of Australia
  • URL:
  • Publisher
  • Name: National Gallery of Australia
  • Organization: National Gallery of Australia
  • Description: Publisher
  • URL:
  • Resource metadata contributed by
  • Name: Education Services Australia Ltd
  • Organisation: Education Services Australia Ltd
  • Address: AUSTRALIA
  • URL:
Access profile
  • Unknown
Learning Resource Type
  • Image
  • Text
  • © National Gallery of Australia 2009 (except where otherwise indicated). This material may be copied, downloaded, communicated and displayed free of charge for non-commercial educational use until 31 December 2015, provided all acknowledgements associated with the material are retained.