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Contemporary art

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander art

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Marrnyula Munuŋgurr


1964 -

Language group

Djapu, Arnhem region


Born 1964, Djapu, Wandawuy/Yirrkala, Arnhem region

Marrnyula Munuŋgurr is among the generation of exceptional female artists working at Yirrkala who have been taught to paint by their fathers and grandfathers and are now painting many of the sites and designs that would once have been the sole domain of men. Munuŋgurr was instructed in painting by her father, Djutjadjutja Munuŋgurr and now works closely with her mother, Noŋgirrŋa Marawili, also an artist. Munuŋgurr began her career as a printmaker and was for many years the senior printmaker at Yirrkala Printspace. Her attention to detail, consistency in application and clarity of design are informed by this experience.

The strong grid pattern dominating both 'Monuk' 2008 refers to the Djapu clan site of Wandawuy. This outstation is surrounded by permanent freshwater and is associated with both Mäna, the ancestral shark, and Bol'ŋu, the thunderman. Rains inspired by the actions of Bol'ŋu feed the rivers and fill the billabongs, resulting in a rich sea life that is a home for mäna. The grid refers to the landscape of the site, a network of billabongs surrounded by ridges and high banks and also relates to the grid of a woven fish trap set here by ancestral hunters.

In 'Monuk' 2008 the pattern refers more specifically to the saltwater of the Gupa Djapu clan, with the dominate use of white referencing the sea foam of saltwater known as Balamumu. The turtle immersed within this field of white references the ancestral hunters Balurruwuy and Yaŋgamawuy who saw turtle from Burralku Island and proceeded to hunt this turtle.




Media categories

Sculpture , Woodwork

Materials used

natural pigments on wood


279.0 x 14.0 x 18.0 cm

Signature & date

Not signed. Not dated.


Tony Gilbert Bequest Fund 2013


Not on display

Accession number


Artist information

Marrnyula Munuŋgurr

Works in the collection



Where the work was made

Shown in 1 exhibition

Exhibition history