20 JULY - 21 AUGUST 2016

Milingimbi is an island off the north coast of Arnhem Land some 400 kilometres to the east of Darwin. The population of around 1,000 that calls Milingimbi and its outstations home includes about 13 different clan groups. Using traditional ochres and white clay, its artists create paintings on bark and canvas, based on the body art applied during religious ceremonies that are still part of everyday life in this small, remote island community. It is an art that is informed by the deep cultures of the region and the diversity of those cultures, which have been influenced by their proximity to Indonesia and particularly by a long history of contact with traders from Sulawesi. The colours used for art production by the Milingimbi people are associated with the dreamtime Dj’ankawu sisters, who travelled through north east Arnhem Land creating spring water, languages and culture amongst Yolgnu people.

The exhibition featured the work of four senior artists, as well as other mid-career artists, from Milingimbi.

Joe Dhamanydji is a guardian of cultural knowledge, not all of which can be shared with non-Indigenous people. He is the youngest son of renowned artist and cultural leader Tom Djawa. He grew up in Milingimbi and has been painting since he was at mission school. Joe makes works associated with the buralla (diving duck), yangurra (turtle), gunatdarra (heron), munbirri (catfish), lumba-lumba (emu), yuka (crab), minmindjark (water hole), djanda bininmirr (water goanna) and djalunbu (hollow log coffin). He also paints designs associated with the Dja’nkawu Sisters from his mother’s side.

Raymond Bulambula was born in Milingimbi and raised at Rapuma Island, his mother’s country, to the east. When he was a young man he set off to his late father’s country at Langarra Island and learned his sacred stories from his father’s nephews. Raymond makes art from three sources. He paints the morning stars that belong to his mother’s side (Gurryindi) and to the Mallarra side, but most of his paintings come from the Mandjikay Wobulkarra side, which belongs to the Langarra people. His favourite subjects are the latjin (mangrove worm and tree), the monuk gapu (salt and fresh water with bubbles) which flows from the creek to the sea, and the warraka (cycad). He now lives at Bordia outstation on Milingimbi Island.

Margaret Rarru was born in Garriyak, one of the northernmost homesteads in the Northern Territory, and is a senior Liyagawumirr woman. She began painting on bark in 2007. She currently resides at her mother's homeland, Langarra (Howard Island).

Helen Ganalmirriwuy was born in Galiwin’ku (Elcho Island) and grew up at Langarra (Howard Island), her mother’s homeland, and in Milingimbi. Helen was taught painting by her family during the Ngarra cleansing ceremony in which clan designs are used as body paint.

Paintings by senior Milingimbi artists available for purchase :

Artworks included in the exhibition:

(for details of the works, please click on image and then hold cursor over the left hand side of image)

Views of the exhibition