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Contemporary art

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander art

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Mimihs at Milmilngkan



John Mawurndjul AM


1952 -

Language group

Kuninjku, Arnhem region


John Mawurndjul's painting 'Mimihs at Milmilngkan' 1989 is an outstanding example of the late 1980s Mawurndjul. During his painting career the artist has gradually moved from depicting familiar representations of such spiritual entities as Ngalyod the rainbow serpent and the mermaid-like female spirits or yawkyawks, to dazzling abstract patterning that completely covers the bark. These 'abstract' bark paintings represent body painting for the Mardayin ceremonies and relate to sites near his homeland at Mumeka. There is also a connection with the dazzling optical effects associated with the skin of the rainbow serpent.

Mawurndjul is arguably the finest bark painter working at the moment. He is particularly noted for his fine rarrk and the distinctive patterning that is displayed in the painting 'Untitled' 2000. Mawurndjul was tutored by his brother Jimmy Njiminjuma (b.1945) and uncle, Peter (Djakku) Marralwanga (c.1916-1987), both superb artists.

John Mawurndjul has had solo exhibitions at Gallery Gabrielle Pizzi in Melbourne since 1991. He regularly shows at Annandale Galleries in Sydney and his work is in many public and private collections in Australia and overseas. Mawurndjul has won several prizes including the 1999 Telstra Bark Painting Award at the National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Art Award held by the Museums and Art Galleries of the Northern Territory.

© Australian Art Department, Art Gallery of New South Wales, 2002


Other Titles

Mimihs at Minmilgan

Mimih at Milmilngkan



Media category

Bark painting

Materials used

natural pigments on eucalyptus bark


249.0 x 95.0 cm

Signature & date

Not signed. Not dated.


Purchased 2002


Not on display

Accession number


Artist information

John Mawurndjul AM

Artist profile

Works in the collection


Shown in 4 exhibitions

Exhibition history

Referenced in 4 publications


Art Gallery of New South Wales, Art Gallery of New South Wales Annual Report 2002, 'Year in review', pg. 8-25, Sydney, 2002, 8, 9 (colour illus.).

Guido Magnaguagno (Director) and Bernhard Lüthi (Curator), "rarrk" John Mawurndjul: journey through time in northern Australia, Basel, 2005, 104 (colour illus.), 227.

Hetti Perkins, Crossing country: the alchemy of western Arnhem Land art, Sydney, 2004, 75 (colour illus.), 226.

Luke Taylor, Between indigenous Australia and Europe: John Mawurndjul: art histories in context, 'Painted energy: John Mawurndjul and the negotiation of aesthetics in Kuninjku bark painting', pg. 31-45, Canberra, 2009, 39, 40 (illus.), 215 (illus.). titled 'Mimih at Milmilngkan'; figure 6 and figure 47