John Mawurndjul and Gulumbu Yunupingu: Earth and Sky

TWMA_John MawurndjulBark paintings by two of the most outstanding Indigenous artists of our time, John Mawurndjul and Gulumbu Yunupingu will feature in a new exhibition curated by Hetti Perkins titled Earth and Sky at the TarraWarra Museum of Art from 28 March 2015. The title of the exhibition refers to the respective subjects of the two artists’ practice.

The paintings of Kuninjku artist John Mawurndjul embody the earthly, the terrestrial, and the ancestral realm. His ‘abstract’ bark paintings represent body painting for the sacred Mardayin ceremonies and relate to the landscape and significant sites within his homeland in western Arnhem Land.

The dazzling optical effects created by Mawurndjul’s distinctive use of rarrk (cross hatching) also evokes the skin of Ngalyod (the rainbow serpent) and makes reference to the actions and ongoing presence of this omnipotent creator being.

Initially inspired by her traditional Gumatj stories of the Pleiades and other constellations, the late Gulumbu Yunupingu painted Garak (the universe) and its stars and galaxies, interpreting these ancestral concepts within the realms of her own imagination.

Her barks are expressions of the cosmos, the celestial realm, with its infinite depths depicted in fields of intricate patterning using an artistic technique she made all her own. Yunupingu’s paintings reveal depth of Yolngu knowledge of country and suggest the intimate personal associations of this story for the artist. The breadth of her philosophy included all humanity.

“In bringing the work of these two artists together, the exhibition will offer a panoptic view of ‘country’ from an Indigenous perspective,” says Curator Hetti Perkins. “Both artists engage with and represent the natural world in a highly sophisticated and conceptual aesthetic form.”

“Their work distils the spiritual nature of this engagement in work that resonates with a power that is both ceremonial and celebratory.”

John Mawurndjul and Gulumbu Yunupingu: Earth and Sky
Tarrawarra Museum of Art, 311 Healesville-Yarra Glen Road, Healesville
Exhibition: 28 March – 8 June 2015
Entry fees apply

For more information, visit: for details.

Image: John Mawurndjul, Billabong at Milmilngkan 2009 (detail), natural earth pigments on wood, 183.5 x 77 cm, Courtesy of the artist and Annadale Galleries, Sydney. © John Mawurndjul