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Old Masters: Australia's great bark artists

Caution: This website includes images and names of deceased people that may cause distress to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.


Birrikitji Gumana
Birrikitji Gumana. Photo: JA Davidson.

Dhalwaŋu clan, Yirritja moiety
about 1890–1982

Birrikitji was a ŋurrudawalaŋu — a renowned warrior — and a respected ritual and community leader.

His favourite painting subjects were the major Yirritja ancestors Barama and Lany’tjung. Birrikitji was one of the Yirritja painters of the Yirrkala Church Panels (1963).

Major exhibitions to feature his work include: Art of the Dreamtime, Tokyo, in 1966; Dreamings at the Asia Society Galleries, New York, in 1988; Spirit in Land at the National Gallery of Victoria, and Keepers of the Secrets at the Art Gallery of Western Australia, both in 1990; and Yirrkala Artists: Everywhen at the Art Gallery of Western Australia in 2009.

Paintings in the exhibition

Click on the images below to see a larger version and more information, including dimensions. Please note these images are not to scale.

All these bark paintings are part of the National Museum of Australia’s collection. © the artist or the artist’s estate, licensed by Aboriginal Artists Agency 2013, unless otherwise specified. These images must not be reproduced in any form without permission.


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