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Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander art

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Small clouds

circa 1950


Makani Wilingarr


1905 - 1984

Language group

Mildjingi, Arnhem region


Makani excelled in a form of abstract purity, as seen in 'Small clouds' c1950. On an entirely visual level it is an intriguing work, such is the balance between form, colour and delicate miny’tji (clan designs). The triangular forms within this image refer to small clouds. With their ends demarcated in solid colour, the clouds in the upper section are reflected in the lower through a form of random symmetry. All pairs, bar one, meet at the central yellow line and the colours are the inverse of the triangle they reflect. The miny’tji in the upper section all flows in the one diagonal direction. In the lower section, however, a more complex arrangement is at play, forming a chevron-like pattern, the optical shifts of which imbue the work with energy. Mildjingi call these wet season clouds djarrupung and they relate to the travels of an ancestor sacred to that clan and estates in the Glyde River area on the mainland opposite.


Other Title

Bark painting (Triangular motif)


circa 1950

Media category

Bark painting

Materials used

natural pigments on bark


74.3 x 47.0 cm


Purchased 1959


Not on display

Accession number


Artist information

Makani Wilingarr

Artist profile

Works in the collection



Where the work was made

Shown in 2 exhibitions

Exhibition history

Referenced in 2 publications


Frederick D. McCarthy, Australian Aboriginal art: bark paintings, carved figures, sacred and secular objects: an exhibition arranged by the State art galleries of Australia, 1960-1961, 'Introduction', pg. 7-17, Sydney, 1960, 23. 41

Cara Pinchbeck, Art from Milingimbi, ‘Makani’, pg. 102-115, Sydney, 2016, front cover (colour illus., detail), 107 (coluor illus.), 142.