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Contemporary art

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander art

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John Mawurndjul


1952 -

Language group

Kuninjku, Arnhem region


Buluwana was a woman of Wumuddjan subsection, and one of the first people to inhabit the Kurulk clan region at Ngandarrayo. The Ngandarrayo site is on a large escarpment outlier. The camping places along this outlier are rich in rock art. During the time of great drought, Buluwana and her family were camped at Ngandarrayo. They were weak from thirst, and close to death, when the group was confronted by the malevolent gigantic form of the Death Adder snake. Buluwana tried to run away with the rest of her family, but was crushed and turned to stone. An arrangement of rocks still remains in the ground as Buluwana's present-day form. Only her head protrudes as a prismic standing stone - the rest ofher body is under the ground. Other human remains lying on rock ledges are said to be those of more early ancestors. The Ngandarrayo site is a place of great significance to people of the Kurulk and Kulmarru clans, and is classed as a highly sacred and dangerous place.

from Hetti Perkins et al., 'Crossing country: the alchemy of Western Arnhem Land art', Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney, 2004


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Media category

Bark painting

Materials used

natural pigments on eucalyptus bark


190.0 x 84.0 cm (irreg.)

Signature & date

Not signed. Not dated.


Purchased 2003


Not on display

Accession number


Artist information

John Mawurndjul

Artist profile

Works in the collection


Shown in 4 exhibitions

Exhibition history

Referenced in 5 publications


Alison Harper, Art and Australia (Vol. 41, No. 4), 'Aboriginal art: aquisitions by Australia's public museums and galleries', pg. 612-614, Sydney, Jun 2004-Aug 2004, 613.

Hetti Perkins, Art + soul: a journey into the world of Aboriginal art, 'Home + away', pg. 1-86, Carlton, 2010, 49 (colour illus.), 279.

Cara Pinchbeck, Look, 'The Dreamers: Artists who revolutionised Aboriginal art', pg. 24-27, Sydney, Aug 2009, 27 (colour illus.).

Judith Ryan, Art and Australia (Vol. 42, No. 1), 'Abstract vision: John Mawurndjul', pg. 64-71, Sydney, Sep 2004-Nov 2004, 69 (colour illus.).

Hetti Perkins, Crossing country: the alchemy of western Arnhem Land art, Sydney, 2004, 91 (colour illus.), 226.