Skip to content
  • Open today 9am–5pm
  • Free general admission

International exhibition

Old Masters: Australia’s Great Bark Artists showcases the work of Australia’s great bark painters: Aboriginal artists from Arnhem Land who carried one of the oldest continuing traditions of art into the modern era.

Old Masters is on show at:

Artworks

The exhibition includes more than 120 works, plus carvings that share designs often used in bark paintings. It celebrates the knowledge, genius and work of over 40 master artists, including Narritjin Maymuru, Yirawala, Mawalan Marika, and their contemporaries.

Read the media release

Slideshow

Dick NGULEINGULEI MURRUMURRU
Bularlhdja clan, Dangbon and Kunwinjku languages
about 1920–1988

Mimih Hunting, about 1980
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Affairs Art collection, collected at Gunbalanya (Oenpelli)
106 x 58.5 cm

© the artist’s estate, licensed by Aboriginal Artists Agency

YIRAWALA
Born clan, Kuninjku language
about 1897–1976

Totemic Crocodile, 1965
Aboriginal Arts Board collection no. 2, collected at Minjilang (Croker Island)
80.2 x 64 cm

© the artist’s estate, licensed by Aboriginal Artists Agency

MATHAMAN MARIKA
Rirratjiŋu clan
1920–1970

Rirratjiŋu Mortuary Ceremony, 1967
collected by Helen Groger-Wurm at Yirrkala
89.6 x 46 cm

© the artist’s estate, licensed by Aboriginal Artists Agency

NARRITJIN MAYMURU
Maŋgalili clan
about 1914–1982

Fight between Crocodile-Man and Stingray-Man, 1963
collected by Karel Kupka at Yirrkala
94 x 62.5 cm

© the artist’s estate, licensed by Aboriginal Artists Agency

John BULUNBULUN
Gurrumba Gurrumba clan, Ganalbiŋu language
1946–2010

Creatures of the Arafura Swamp, about 1984
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Affairs Art collection
125 x 91 cm

© the artist’s estate, licensed by Aboriginal Artists Agency

David MALANGI
Manharrŋu clan, Manyarrŋu language
1927–1999

Totems of the Manharrŋu, Mortuary Rites, 1966
collected by JA Davidson at Milingimbi
76 x 54 cm

© the artist’s estate, licensed by Aboriginal Artists Agency

Exhibition catalogue

A painting of a kangaroo with the text 'Old Masters: Australia's Great Bark Artists'

Essays from key scholars of Australian Indigenous bark painting, including Howard Morphy, Wally Caruana and Luke Taylor, present new research on the bark paintings in the Museum’s collection and the role and significance of bark paintings in the broader cultural context.

A new feature of this edition is a section on reading bark paintings, which explores the iconography of and stories behind many of the paintings from the show. The book also includes information on the styles and aesthetics of the paintings, and biographical information about the artists.

ISBN: 978-1-921953-34-7
310mm high x 205mm wide, 256 pp, full colour
National Museum of Australia Press, July 2018
$A39.95 at the National Museum Shop or

Buy online now

Acknowledgements

An international touring exhibition produced by the National Museum of Australia.

Old Masters: Australia's Great Bark Artists is supported by the Australian Government through the Australia–China Council of the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade.

The exhibition has been on show at:

  • National Museum of China, Beijing, 3 July to 2 September 2018

Logos for National Museum of China, National Museum of Australia, Australian Government Australia China Council, Australia Post and DeBortoli.

Return to Top