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Kardbam clan, Kuninjku language, Yirridjdja moiety

Peter Marralwanga - click to view larger image
Peter Marralwanga. Photo: Luke Taylor

About 1917–1987

Marralwanga’s nickname was Djakku, the Kuninjku word for ‘left-handed’. From 1949 he lived mainly in Oenpelli (Gunbalanya), before moving to Maningrida a decade later. At first he made only spears and fishnets to sell, but by 1972 he had established an outstation at Marrkolidjban which, for a time, he shared with Yirawala, who taught him the skills of painting. Marralwanga developed a personal style characterised by bold bands of rarrk in alternating colours. He also tutored a young John Mawurndjul in bark painting.

Major group exhibitions featuring Marralwanga’s work include: Aboriginal Art at the Top, Darwin, in 1982; The Continuing Tradition at the National Gallery of Australia in 1989; Aratjara, which toured Europe in 1993–94; and Crossing Country at the Art Gallery of New South Wales in 2004.

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