Ron Yunkaporta is the principal Song-Man and titular head of the Apelech
clan of the Wik Aboriginal people of north Australia, and holder of
responsibilities for the Law Poles entitled “thuuth thaa’-munth”.
As a prominent maker of Law Poles for traditional mortuary ceremonies,
Yunkaporta has played a leading role in expanding the role and location
of such carvings. Law poles have recently been commissioned and prominently
displayed in Australian art institutions, where the crossover from community
encodings of cultural law to contemporary art raises—but does not
directly address—issues of cross-cultural translation and exchange.
Yunkaporta began carving for exhibition in about 1995, and is the first
Apelech sculptor to contribute a set of contemporary law poles to a European
collection—the Aboriginal Art Museum in Utrecht—in 2007. His
work was also featured in the major survey exhibition Story Place:
Indigenous Art of Cape York and the Rainforest (Queensland Art Gallery,
Art and Law in Saltwater Country by Moira G. Simpson