Contrary to the depiction and title, in the Guugu Yimithirr language of the Hope Vale region, ‘Garrbunchirr’ represents the opposite to feelings of happiness. Instead, these ghastly and tortured images are that of the destructive and negative effects of alcohol and drugs on the human body and soul. Many of Roy’s paintings were of culture, land and spirits of the ‘invisible realm’ from Indigenous perspectives and philosophies.
Roy’s interpretation of being happy did not entail an alcohol and drug induced state and this painting is a statement and warning of the effects of excess alcohol and drug abuse. Roy often spoke about how the bad spirits, ‘yiki’ in the Guugu Yimithirr language, can possess and destroy a person when they are in these states.