Artists of Buku-Larrnggay Mulka
15 July - 6 August 2005
In partnership with Buku Larrngay Mulka
Q: What do the following nine people have in common; Wolpa Wanambi,Wukun Wanambi, Gulumbu Yunupingu, Naminapu Maymuru-White, Gawirrin Gumana, Djambawa Marawili, Galuma Maymuru,Yananymul Mununggurr, Baluka Maymuru,
A: They have all won major Australian art prizes. They are all living artists from North East Arnhem land. Most people, including many in the art world, do not know who they are.
Despite intense critical acclaim, institutional recognition and sell out solo shows over the last decade, it is a relatively small group of private collectors and museum curators who could pronounce any of their names.
Perhaps because they do not use Anglicised names, their art is highly sought after but their names rarely remembered. As well as using names from their own culture they also use natural media, earth pigments, bark and termite hollowed Stringybark trunks instead of the internationally accepted and understood acrylic, canvas and paper.
Other artists from Yirrkala and homelands who have also had successful exhibitions in southern states but who have struggled to be recognised as individuals are Wanyubi Marika, Nawurapu Wunungmurra,Waturr Gumana, Gunybi Ganambarr and Mulkun Wirrpanda.
Slowly though, over the last ten years through these prizes and shows each of them has developed a small personal following to match the regard they are held in at home.
Now, for the first time, each of these individual unsung stars join together in an exhibition at Raft Artspace in Darwin. The exhibition is 'yakumirri'.
This word literally means something or someone that has a name. To say an artist is 'yakumirri' means they have a 'name' or a profile. The term is used around the art centre at Yirrkala and amongst artists as a point of pride.
Although it has taken some time for non-Yolngu speakers to learn to say and remember these names, all of these artists are 'yakumirri' having won a major prize or had at least one successful solo show. The quality of their work has overcome the barriers of unfamiliar pronunciation and media to the point where people seek their art by name.
This exhibition is a joint celebration of their individual achievements in getting to that level without compromising their law, their art or their identity. It is also a chance for more people to learn these important names.
Buku-Larrnggay Mulka Centre
Yirrkala NT 0880