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Rirratjiŋu clan, Dhuwa moiety

Mawalan Marika - click to view larger image
Mawalan Marika. Photo: JA Davidson

About 1908–1967

Mawalan was a great visionary who advocated the need to teach all Australians about Yolŋu culture, especially through art. A senior Rirratjiŋu clan leader, he negotiated the establishment of the Methodist mission at Yirrkala in 1935.

Mawalan was the head of one of Australia’s great art dynasties that includes his brother Mathaman and son Wandjuk. He was a signatory to the Aboriginal Bark Petitions (1963) and the leading Dhuwa painter of the Yirrkala Church Panels (1963). In the 1960s Mawalan was the first artist to teach women (his daughters) to paint sacred clan designs. His work has been shown in many exhibitions, including: The Art of Arnhem Land, Perth, in 1957; Dreamings, New York, in 1988; Aratjara, which toured Europe in 1993–94; and Yalangbara: Art of the Djang’kawu at the National Museum of Australia in 2010–11.

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