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Contemporary art

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander art

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Wawalak Wulay, Djan'kawu Creation



Banduk Marika


13 Oct 1954 -

Language group

Rirratjingu, Arnhem region


Banduk Marika is the youngest daughter of Mawalan Marika, and sister of Wandjuk. Banduk Marika and her sisters are among the first Yolngu women to be encouraged by their male relatives to paint ancestral creation stories. Marika's medium of choice, linoprint, enables her to depict the ancestral stories in a new way, while respecting the law. Carving the design into the lino blocks echoes the practice of precisely incising clan designs onto wooden objects such as ancestral figures, Macassan pipes and message sticks.

Marika's print 'Miyapunuwuy Yarru Yan – Turtle hunting at Dhambaliya (Bremer Island)', 1987, illustrates key aspects of the story of two ancestral hunters who harpooned turtle and prepared them in the traditional way on Ruwakpuy Beach. Gakarrarr, the land seagull, was spearing fish nearby and caught wind of this. Sneaking up, he grabbed some meat and was in turn caught by the hunters and thrown onto the fire. 'Wawalak Wulay, Djan'kawu Creation', 1987, shows scenes from the Wawilak Sisters and Djan'kawu song cycles. Because she is a Rirratjingu woman, Marika is intimately associated with Yalangbara and other important clan land in the region.

As a traditional landowner at Yirrkala, Marika has inherited responsibilities that have shaped her life. She was educated at Yirrkala and moved to Darwin in 1972. She later moved to Sydney in 1980 to pursue her career as an artist. In 1984 she was artist-in-residence at the Canberra School of Art, and in 1985 she was artist-in-residence at Flinders University, South Australia. In 1988, Marika returned to Yirrkala to be the manager of Buku-Larrngay Mulka Arts Centre and Museum.

Marika combines her familial responsibilities with her activities as an artist and cultural activist. She has travelled as a delegate and speaker to many national and international conferences. In 1994, a Federal Court judgement awarded Marika (and seven other Aboriginal artists) damages against a company that illegally reproduced their work on carpets produced in Vietnam. Consequently, she featured in 'Copyrights', a documentary made in 1997 that explored Indigenous principles of copyright. Among Marika's many accomplishments have been appointments to the boards of the National Gallery of Australia, Canberra, and the Museums and Art Galleries of the Northern Territory, Darwin. She was also a member of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Arts Board of the Australia Council. In 2001, Marika was the recipient of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Arts Board's prestigious Red Ochre Award for lifetime achievement.

Ken Watson in 'Tradition today: Indigenous art in Australia', Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney, 2004

© Art Gallery of New South Wales


Other Titles

Wawulakwulay - Djankawu creation

Wawalak Wulay, Djankawu Creation



Media category


Materials used

linocut, brown ink on ivory wove paper




23.3 x 41.4 cm blockmark; 38.1 x 56.9 cm sheet

Signature & date

Signed and dated l.r. corner, pencil "Banduk "87"".


Purchased 1988


Not on display

Accession number


Artist information

Banduk Marika

Artist profile

Works in the collection



Where the work was made

Shown in 3 exhibitions

Exhibition history

Referenced in 5 publications


Hendrik Kolenberg and Anne Ryan, Australian prints from the Gallery's collection, Sydney, 1998, 143 (illus.). 121

Bernice Murphy, Contemporary Australian painting, 'Aboriginal art', pg. 127-146, Sydney, 1990, 132 (colour illus.), 133. titled 'Wawalak Wulay, Djankawu Creation'

Hetti Perkins and Margie West, One sun one moon: Aboriginal art in Australia, ‘Banduk Marika in conversation’, pg. 78-83, Sydney, 2007, 81 (colour illus.).

Hetti Perkins, Aboriginal Women's Exhibition, 'Introduction', pg. 7-13, Sydney, 1991, 11, 32 (illus.), 51.

Ken Watson, Tradition today: Indigenous art in Australia, 'Banduk Marika', pg. 76, Sydney, 2004, 76, 77 (colour illus.).