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


Balangjangalan spirit

late 1980s


Paddy Fordham Wainburranga


circa 1932 – 31 May 2006

Language group: Rembarrnga, Arnhem region

  • Details

    late 1980s
    Media category
    Materials used
    natural earth pigments and acrylic binder on wood
    260.0 x 8.0 x 8.0 cm
    Signature & date

    Not signed. Not dated.

    Gift of Christopher Hodges and Helen Eager 2005
    Not on display
    Accession number
    © Estate of Paddy Fordham Wainburranga/Copyright Agency

    Reproduction requests

    Artist information
    Paddy Fordham Wainburranga

    Works in the collection


  • About

    Paddy Fordham Wainburranga is a Rembarrnga painter, sculptor, printmaker and dancer. Born in central Arnhem Land, he began painting for the art market in 1983 and has painted subject matter encompassing not only his ancestral stories but also works focussed on the political and social changes that he has experienced during his life.

    Wainburranga's practice of sculpting spirit figures developed from his involvement with the Aboriginal Memorial of 1988. This installation of 200 hollow log coffins represents 200 years of dispossession and genocidal policies in regard to Aboriginal people and is on permanent display at the NGA. Wainburranga contributed twenty-three painted hollow-log coffins to this project. Subsequently the carving of Balangjangalan Spirits has become an important element in his artistic practice.

    Documentation states: The Balangjangalan Spirit is an ancestral spirit that has helped with the creation of Paddy's country. The symbols on these figures represent ancestral events that occurred during the creation of his country. The events have been recreated with drawing on these figures. They are also seen in his bark paintings and on his hollow log coffins, such as those at the National Gallery of Australia.

    © Australian Art Department, Art Gallery of New South Wales, 2005

  • Exhibition history

    Shown in 2 exhibitions

    • One sun, one moon, Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney, 03 Jul 2007–02 Dec 2007

    • Sentient lands, Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney, 04 Jun 2016–08 Oct 2017

      Sentient lands, Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney, 21 Jan 2017–08 Oct 2017

  • Bibliography

    Referenced in 1 publication

Other works by Paddy Fordham Wainburranga