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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.


Mathaman Marika
Mathaman Marika. Photo: JA Davidson.

Rirratjiŋu clan, Dhuwa moiety
about 1920–1970

Mathaman was a passionate advocate of Yolŋu traditions. He inherited the leadership of the Rirratjiŋu clan when his elder brother Mawalan passed away, and led the struggle against bauxite mining in the Yirrkala region. Mathaman became a close friend of the collector JA Davidson, his agent in the 1960s. In 1996 a painting of Mathaman’s sold for a record price for a bark painting, at an auction in New York. His work has been included in many major exhibitions, including: Australian Aboriginal Art, an Art Gallery of New South Wales exhibition that toured the country in 1960–61; Yirrkala Artists: Everywhen at the Art Gallery of Western Australia in 2009; and Yalangbara: Art of the Djang’kawu at the National Museum of Australia in 2010–11.

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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