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An image of Buluwana by John Mawurndjul

John Mawurndjul

(Australia 1952 – )

Language group
Kuninjku, Arnhem region
Media category
Bark painting
Materials used
natural pigments on eucalyptus bark

190.0 x 84.0 cm (irreg.)

Signature & date
Not signed. Not dated.
Purchased 2003
Accession number
© John Mawurndjul. Licensed by Viscopy, Australia
Yiribana Gallery
Further information

Buluwana was a woman of Wumuddjan subsection, and one of the first people to inhabit the Kurulk clan region at Ngandarrayo. The Ngandarrayo site is on a large escarpment outlier. The camping places along this outlier are rich in rock art. During the time of great drought, Buluwana and her family were camped at Ngandarrayo. They were weak from thirst, and close to death, when the group was confronted by the malevolent gigantic form of the Death Adder snake. Buluwana tried to run away with the rest of her family, but was crushed and turned to stone. An arrangement of rocks still remains in the ground as Buluwana's present-day form. Only her head protrudes as a prismic standing stone - the rest ofher body is under the ground. Other human remains lying on rock ledges are said to be those of more early ancestors. The Ngandarrayo site is a place of great significance to people of the Kurulk and Kulmarru clans, and is classed as a highly sacred and dangerous place.

from Hetti Perkins et al., 'Crossing country: the alchemy of Western Arnhem Land art', Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney, 2004

Bibliography (5)

Alison Harper, Art and Australia (Vol. 41, No. 4), 'Aboriginal art: aquisitions by Australia's public museums and galleries', pg. 612-614, Paddington, Jun 2004-Aug 2004, 613.

Hetti Perkins, Art + soul: a journey into the world of Aboriginal art, 'Home + away', pg. 1-86, Carlton, 2010, 49 (colour illus.), 279.

Hetti Perkins, Crossing country: the alchemy of western Arnhem Land art, Sydney, 2004, 91 (colour illus.), 226.

Cara Pinchbeck, Look, 'The Dreamers: Artists who revolutionised Aboriginal art', pg. 24-27, Newtown, Aug 2009, 27 (colour illus.).

Judith Ryan, Art and Australia (Vol. 42, No. 1), 'Abstract vision: John Mawurndjul', pg. 64-71, Paddington, Sep 2004-Nov 2004, 69 (colour illus.).

Exhibition history (4)

19th National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Art Award, Museum and Art Galleries of the Northern Territory, Darwin, 10 Aug 2002–27 Oct 2002

Crossing country: the alchemy of Western Arnhem Land art, Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney, 24 Sep 2004–12 Dec 2004

The Dreamers (2009-10), Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney, 09 May 2009–15 Aug 2010

Our spirits lie in the water, 15 Nov 2014–01 Nov 2015