We acknowledge the Gadigal of the Eora Nation, the traditional custodians of the Country on which the Art Gallery of NSW stands.





John Bulunbulun


1946 – 18 Apr 2010

Language group: Ganalbingu, Arnhem region

Artist profile

  • Details

    Place where the work was made
    Maningrida Central Arnhem Land Northern Territory Australia
    Media category
    Bark painting
    Materials used
    natural pigments on bark
    139.0 x 59.0 cm
    Signature & date

    Not signed. Not dated.

    Mollie Gowing Acquisition Fund for Contemporary Aboriginal Art 2015
    North Building, ground level, Yiribana Gallery
    Accession number
    © Estate of John Bulunbulun/Copyright Agency

    Reproduction requests

    Artist information
    John Bulunbulun

    Artist profile

    Works in the collection


  • About

    John Bulunbulun lived with his wife's family at Wurdeja, not far from the Blyth River in the Northern Territory. He was a member of the Ganalbingu clan, and one of the most important singers and ceremonial men in the northern part of central Arnhem Land. His traditional homeland lay in the Arafura Swamp area. Taught painting by his father, Bulunbulun painted continuously from 1970, having his first solo exhibition at the Hogarth Galleries, Sydney in 1981. He received considerable publicity in 1989 when he took successful action against a Queensland T-shirt maker for illegally reproducing one of his works, a landmark case in Aboriginal intellectual property rights.

    ‘Bakarra’ 2009 depicts a set of sacred stones, called bakarra, which lay at Gutijwirrka, immersed within tracts of Ganalbingu country, while the deep black strips adorned with delicate floral motifs indicate flowing water. The works is painted in Bulunulun’s distinctive rarrk or crosshatching - with precise and regular bands of red and yellow ochre interspersed with white – employed in combination with bold yellow forms, brilliant white outlining and restrained use of black.

  • Places

    Where the work was made


  • Exhibition history

    Shown in 1 exhibition

Other works by John Bulunbulun

See all 5 works