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


Mimih spirit



Crusoe Kurddal


06 Aug 1964 – 01 May 2020

Language group: Kuninjku, Arnhem region

  • Details

    Place where the work was made
    Maningrida Central Arnhem Land Northern Territory Australia
    Media category
    Materials used
    natural pigments with PVA fixative on kurrajong wood (Brachychiton diversifolius)
    263.0 x 14.5 cm
    Signature & date

    Not signed. Not dated.

    Mollie Gowing Acquisition fund for Contemporary Aboriginal art 2003
    Not on display
    Accession number
    © Crusoe Kurddal. Licensed by Aboriginal Artists Agency Ltd

    Reproduction requests

    Artist information
    Crusoe Kurddal

    Works in the collection


  • About

    'Mimih spirit' 2002 is an extremely accomplished example of the mimih sculptures for which Crusoe Kurddal is renowned.

    The double figure arrangement of 'Mimih spirit' 2002 is highly unusual and emphasised by the complementary use of red and black ochred backgrounds for each figure. The meticulous application of body paint and care taken in the carving of this work, contribute to the sculpture's highly resolved quality. Kurddal's use of contrasting base colours is possibly attributable to the growing artistic presence of his brother Owen Yalandja, who carves the elegant yawkyawk figures and often employs a black background. The carving of mimih and yawkyawk figures has become one of the primary dry season occupations of the Maningrida art centre artists. However, Kurddal remains the most distinguished of the 'mimih artists' through his depictions of these enigmatic and much revered beings in performance and carving.

    The Oxford Companion to Aboriginal Art & Culture states: 'Crusoe Kurddal is the second son of the artist Crusoe Kuningbal (c. 1922-1986). Kurddal has become best known for continuing both the sculptural and musical traditions of his father. Kurddal is the only one of Kuningbal's three sons who performs his father's solo mimih style dance routine. Along with his elder brother Owen Yalandja, Kurddal also continues to perform the singing of the individually-owned kunborrk songs from his father's repertoire. In the early 1990s Kurddal started to produce very large versions of the sculpted mimih spirit figures which were made famous by his father. Large sculptures of other clan totems such as yawkyawk (mermaids) are also produced by Kurddal and Yalandja.'

    Kurddal travels regularly between Maningrida, Oenpelli, Darwin and Croker Island and has performed as a dancer throughout Australia as well as on tours of North America and Europe.

    © Australian Art Department, Art Gallery of New South Wales, 2003

  • Places

    Where the work was made


  • Exhibition history

    Shown in 4 exhibitions

  • Bibliography

    Referenced in 4 publications

Other works by Crusoe Kurddal

See all 5 works