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Gurrumba Gurrumba clan, Ganalbiŋu language, Yirritja moiety

Blurry photograph of a person sitting on the ground and creating an artwork. - click to view larger image
John Bulunbulun


Bulunbulun was a renowned healer and ceremonial singer as well as a major painter of his generation. He was one of the first Yolŋu artists to become a professional printmaker. In the 1970s he collaborated with his kinsman George Milpurrurru and the anthropologist Joseph Reser on a study of traditional Yolŋu housing.

In 1993 Bulunbulun led a group of Yolŋu performers to Ujung Pandang (Makassar) in Sulawesi to stage a ceremony, Marayarr Murrukundja, that re-established relations between the Ganalbiŋu and the Makasar. His work has been included in several seminal exhibitions of Aboriginal art, including Aratjara, which toured Europe in 1993–94.

Painting in the exhibition

A bark painting worked with ochres on bark and on one wooden restrainer. It depicts water birds, snakes and turtles separated by a horizontal crosshatched band in the upper centre. The painting has a background of white dots on either black or red.
Creatures of the Arafura Swamp

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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