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Artist BiographiesArtist Biographies - Arnhem Land Artists


On this and a linked page are short biographies of Arnhem Land artists whose work is represented by paintings or prints on our Web site.

Note that artists listed on the second page are deceased, and mentioning their names aloud, or referring this page to a relative or member of their community, may cause upset and distress.

The artists are:

Banduk Marika

Banduk Marika was born at Yirrkala mission in northeast Arnhem Land in 1954. Like many other women bark painters in Arnhem Land, Banduk was taught to paint by her father Mawalan Marika, a noted artist, statesman and ritual leader of the Dhuwa at Yirrkala. As a child she would sit by her father's side at the beach camp of Yirrkala and watch while he painstakingly covered his bark paintings with the sacred designs of their clan, Riratjingu, in northeast Arnhem Land. This was how she learned the stories and symbolic patterns that are now the basis of her own work.

After living in Darwin for several years Banduk moved to Sydney in 1982 where she made her first prints. Since then she has actively pursued printmaking rather than painting. Her linocuts and screenprints adhere to the pictorial traditions of her clan, and include the stories of Djangkawu, the Wagilag sisters creation story and the Turtle Hunters.

The techniques she uses to cut the linoleum are similar to those used in the layered application of dhulang in bark painting and the incision of designs on wood sculptures in north east Arnhem Land. Her work is noted for its free flowing composition.

While she lived in Sydney, Banduk was a member of the Indigenous Arts Board of the Australia Council for many years. In 1988 Banduk and her family returned to live in Yirrkala. She regularly makes trips outside of Yirrkala to work with master printmakers in other parts of Australia.

She has recently been honoured with the Australia Council's 2001 Red Ochre Award. The annual award was established by the Council's Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Arts Board in 1993. It pays tribute to an Indigenous artist who has made an outstanding contribution to the development and recognition of Indigenous arts and culture.

Dhuwarrwarr Marika

Born: c.1946
Moiety: Dhuwa
Medium: Bark painting with pigments and ochres, wood sculpture , weaving and printmaking.

Dhuwarrwarr Marika is daughter of renowned clan leader Mawalan (deceased) and lives in Eastern Arnhem Land. Her art is represented in many collections in Australia. Dhuwarrwarr learned to paint from her father and grandfather and uses the same designs in her printmaking.

'Wagilag 2' (print PR014 on this Website) depicts an important billabong where palm trees and scrub grow. All Dhuwa moieties gather there for a special ceremony. Dhuwarrwarr does linocut at Buku-Larrngay Mulka Art Centre at Yirrkala and co-published this silkscreen print with Northern Editions in Darwin.

Djalu Gurruwiwi

Born: c.1940
Moiety: Dhuwa
Medium: Ochres on bark, Yidaki - didgeridoo specialist, printmaking

Djalu is a senior Galpu man who resides at his wife's country (Gumatj) at Gunyunara in Eastern Arnhem Land. 'Bawang' (image PR013 on this Website) symbolically represents the power of the Ancestral being, the Thunderman. As he travels through the country of the Dhuwa moiety clans he brings heavy clouds and rain at the beginning of the wet season. As an independent artist, Djalu visited Northern Editions printmaking workshop at the Northern Territory University in Darwin to design and co-publish this print.

Mickey Garrawurra Durrng

Born: 1940
Moiety: Dhuwa
Clan: Liyagawumirr
Medium: Painting with pigments and ochres on paper

Mickey Durrng Garrawurra is an Elder for the Liyagawumirr clan and lives a traditional life at Langarra, an outstation on Howard Island. His ceremonial duties are extensive and his cultural knowledge profound.. He accompanied artists to Melbourne for an exhibition in 1997, which was his first trip away from his family and home. He has since visited, exhibited his work and performed ceremonially in the United States and Canada.

His paintings depict sacred stories of the travels and creations of ancestral beings known as the two Djan'kawu sisters. The Djangkawu sisters story is often recognisable by the flag-like design showing waterholes created by the Sisters with their digging sticks. These holes were made to flood dry and barren land and encourage life (Reference: "Yiribana", AGNSW p.40).

He is well known for his involvement in sacred ceremonies as an accomplished singer and performer. As an artist, he has a strong reputation for his distinctive, boldly striped paintings and hollow log coffins representing his country and "Dreaming".

Major collections: Linden Museum Stuttgart, Germany; Art Gallery of NSW, Sydney; Museum of Contemporary Art, Sydney; Queensland Art Gallery; National Gallery of Victoria; Australian National Gallery, Canberra; the Kluge-Ruhe Collection, West Virginia USA; the Kerry Stokes Collection, Australia.

Peter Burarrwanga Datjin

Peter is Charlie Matjuwi's son. He is an elder and clan leader of the Gumatj (Burarrwanga) clan.

Peter's work is represented in The Kluge-Ruhe Collection, USA, the Musee des Arts d'Afrique et Oceanie, Paris France and the Musee d' Ethnographie Geneve, Switzerland and the Kerry Stokes Collection, Australia. Peter has exhibited at the Australian Exhibition Center, Chicago and conducted ceremonial performances at the Chicago Cultural Center, Chicago, USA and the University of Toronto, Toronto Canada.

Peter Datjin

Charlie Burarrwanga Matjuwi

Charlie is the clan leader and elder for the Gumatj (Burarrwanga) clan. He is holder of their stories and sacred items and is responsible for ceremonial correctness. Charlie is the father of Peter Datjin Burarrwanga (see biography on this page)

Collections: Museum and Art Gallery of The Northern Territory, Darwin Australia. Australian National Gallery, Canberra Australia. National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne Australia, Musee d' Ethnographie Geneve Switzerland, Kelton Foundation, Santa Monica USA.

Subjects and Themes: Clan lands
Collections held: National Gallery of Australia, Canberra

Got to Page 2 of Arnhem Land biographies


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