Artworks & Stories

Bininj Arnhembrand response

Deborah Wurrkidj | Bush tucker

My name is Deborah. I am working on art. I’m going to make Dilly Bag and Woman story. They collecting bush tucker. She’s got some bush potato and yam and black berry. One woman is carrying dilly bag and we’ll put all the blackberry she’s carrying. And we’ll make fire, we’ll cook some, like raw one and cooked one, they carry. Old people long time ago tell us about story, collecting all the bush tucker story. Grandmother and grandfather we carry on. Still keep going. We’ll remember our bush tucker and sometimes we think like all the English, the Balanda mob. We’re just thinking ‘never’. We’ll keep going.

My country, big mob, lots of bush tucker. Sometimes we were collecting wet season time, strawberry and yam. Sometimes we eat English Balanda one, sometimes we can eat bushtucker. We teaching my grandchildren and my son, we’ll carry on. We’ll tell about all the bush tucker from old people time. We’ll tell us. So that’s it. Sometimes we make a fire in the bush so we can be cooking bush tucker, sometimes we go out hunting and camping. We teaching all the children and grandchildren, we show that all the bush tucker. We can make fire and burn it in the oven. So that’s it my story. I was learning it from my grandmother and my grandfather, she told us about her way, Aboriginal culture. And we’ll carry on bush tucker.


Jennifer Wurrkidj. Dilly bag.Ochre, pigment and acrylic on canvas 75 x 75 cm

Jennifer Wurrkidj | Dilly Bag story

It used to be the old people, they always carry dilly bag. They went hunting and all the food, like turtle and goanna. There was food and there was carrying. Yam and black plum and bush potato. Maybe eggs for turtle, for emu and magpie goose. Before when he was here, but I don’t know. He’s gone from that cane toad. And wallaby, we don’t eat. Sometime we eat crocodile, sometime not really. But they know, the old people. They was teaching us, you know, remember and thinking. So we’re thinking and drawing like maybe grandmother and grandfather think. And maybe story they remember. That’s why we do this, put picture. Like in old time, old people time


Hamish Gurrgurrku. Yabbie Dreaming 2016 Ochre, pigment and acrylic on linen 100 x 100 cm

Hamish Gurrgurrku | Yabbie Dreaming

This one yabbie Dreaming, my one, yabbie. I put in hollow logs, big hollow logs. I draw, bark, canvas, a lot of times we can do it that way, we are thinking you know, to make it. Big mob’s dreaming there. Every night come out from the water hole, that one. In the morning like this we can see him coming in, every night come up from that water to look around, something to eat, little bait, little fish. Sometimes it’s raw and sometimes it’s cooked. We don’t eat. That’s Dreaming that one. I feel connections to yabbie. To not to eat, to not to touch. Like the little painting, the first one that I was painting, it is for all this yabbie, you know, top secret paintings. It’s my Dreaming.

Daniel Bonson | Butterflies and Lily Water Painting


Daniel Bonson. Butterflies and grandmother lily- water 2016 Ochre, pigment and acrylic on canvas 48 x 48 cm

This country is freshwater country at Ji-marda outstation, in the billabong. This butterfly it goes in the flower and the grandmother stays in the billabong, old lily water. Buffalo damaging the waterhole, pigs too. We need to look after it. That water, it’s my grandmother’s water. She talked to me and told me what to do. And grandfather too.


Raylene Bonson. Mermaid Story 2015 Ochre, pigment and acrylic on Revere paper 48 x 48 cm 

Raylene Bonson with Deborah Wurrkidj | Mermaid Story

Above the sea line near Maningrida are the Djόmi freshwater springs, a sacred site. Traditional Owners believe the ancestral Mermaid who lives there creates children. There are water lilies where the mermaids made the creek and fresh water bubbles up through many holes created by the Mermaid. If a woman swims there she will become pregnant. A population boom reportedly occurred after Balanda first settled Maningrida and put in a pipeline from the springs to the town.

This story is still very sacred. When Raylene Bonson decided to paint the Mermaid, she asked Deborah Wurrkidj to first paint the outlines because the story belongs to her.


In old history, before they had mimih spirit, the other mermaid came in from freshwater mermaid, and they were staying there for years, maybe 100 years, 200 years or 400 years. In olden days the old peoples they used to see her when she was living there in the water.

That’s got two mermaid now: fresh water and salt water. So in my area and that side area we used to go for the fishing, so my Dad used to tell us stories, history stories. He used to tell us ‘you’re not allowed to go down to the water because the mermaid is staying there in waterhole’. That’s a long time ago.

So when we used to go hunting before [Deborah: ‘long time ago’] that was alright to us. But when Balanda they used to come for fishing or camping, they could see it come up [‘that lady’], that mermaid. [‘We don’t go to that woman place, we don’t want to go to that hunting place’] We might get lost. Because sometimes there is mermaid there.

So I gave Deborah to do my mermaid because I’m not allowed to. If I might make a mermaid, well Deborah might say something to me in our way.


Raylene Bonson Fish Trap 2016 48 x 48 cm Pigment, ochre and acrylic on canvas

Raylene Bonson | Fish Trap

That’s the fish trap, that’s the stick. Sometimes put that fish trap in that water and this stick you put it like that, so the fish can go in and don’t come out. So keep it there and we lift the stick up. Sometime crack them head of them fish if they’re alive. Then we finish, put it in the dilly bag, take it home and cook it. Sometimes we roast it. Fish, we roast it. Then we don’t have any sheet to make the bed, sometimes we use this one (pandanus), sit on it, to eat our dinner, in old history.




Daniel Bonson | Fish nets, pollution and Pelican

Fishing boat and plastic, it’s ruining our fish and pelican probably eat all the dead fish. Sometimes they put all the net in the sea and then floating away to the homeland and catching things. All the pelican come, he eat all the barras, dead from the killing net, and salmon too.

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Daniel Bonson, Fish Nets, pollution and Pelican,  2016 Ochre, pigment and acrylic on canvas 48 x 48 cm


Daniel Bonson. Storm at Mooronga Island 2016 Ochre, pigment and acrylic on canvas 75 x 75 cm

Daniel Bonson| Storm at Mooronga Island

I’ll paint those flying fish more, bring them up. They’re flying in the storm. When storms come with really rough sea, we know don’t go – otherwise you’re not coming back. Too many people get lost, I get lost too. We get stuck, motor usually stops. In the old days, they use canoes.

Mooronga Island, they got big billabong. Every wet season every flood comes it stays up high. Each storm is kind of like cyclone season. We ship down to Milingimbi. We stay there. My father and my grandson’s father, they’re connected by the songline. So we sing one side of the songline.

When we go home, stay there, we feel it, spirit come to us, and then we get old peoples and we hear talk to the spirits. We old now and we can feel it.


Ivan Namarnyilk 2016 Mission grass messing with Mimih spirits 48 x 48 cm Ochre, pigment, acrylic on canvas

Ivan Namarnyilk | Mission Grass Messing with the Mimih Spirits

This one here, you’ve got nice beautiful painting, mimih spirit, but this one, the weed. Maybe mission grass. Burning right into the shelter. We always control this mission grass. It’s bad for smoke. When you smell mission grass, the smoke, it can be bad, for human health. You can have a bad chest or bad lung. It’s strong, the smoke. It’s going to kill the other grass, the native grass. They’re not going to find that food, the native birds. It’s killing everything. We pull it out, maybe just hand-pull, maybe we spray. I’ve been spraying for ten years now. I know this weed.


Greg Wilson. Goanna, cane toad and snake 2016 Ochre, pigment and acrylic on Revere paper 24 x 24 cm 

Greg Wilson | Cane Toad

Cane toad, I don’t know his country. He travelled from long way to here in the Northern Territory. With sugar cane or whatever. Maybe even jump in. … They came and got rid of all the goanna. Gone, gone now, you can’t find them anymore, not even one.

Cane toads they can get to islands, they swim, or jump in a dead tree and float, all the way to the islands there. Milingimbi, they got it there, big mobs there, they float in tree, they swim all the way. You can see them swimming. Last time we went fishing, ‘hey what’s that – cane toad is it – what are you doing there?’ Fish they don’t eat em; they know. They like green frog or proper frog, barramundi like proper frog, green frog, not toad. Frog is a good bait for barra.

Makes me sad, ruin my country. … If you see em, kill em. Too many. Millions. If there’s toad eggs or tadpoles in the water, they muck it up, you can’t go drink it, you get sick, your guts ache. Wallaby drink he get sick really skinny. Dog, dingo, he get sick skinny. Balanda that brought toads here, they should come back and pick it up, take it back where you found it.

Greg Wilson | On Mining and Alcohol

We got no bar like pub, no beer, no traffic, you know. People happy. Happy on country. Have to stay in country, not town.

Oil maybe oil company too, don’t like oil here and gas. We’ve got too many totem here, biggest mob.  We saw them cyclone come up here every year, likely every wet season, cyclone don’t come here, they bounce back. We’ve got strong country here, lot of totem, in land and sea. They come here they can sing em, sing that cyclone go away. But if you put big mob oil here and gas, all the totem they got to move away, leave you alone now, all this bloke doing their own thing, leaving alone now forever in top country. Next minute cyclone will come vroom, it come up, crashing all.

They trying to do mining here, but no. We don’t like mining. We got food, we got bush-tucker here, we can eat the animal here like buffalo, kangaroo.

We don’t like pub here. If they put pub here they too many drunken people hanging around here in the shop, humbug, sick people, fighting, they break your house, all drive around drunk … That’s why we have to try to grab all the kids, take them out this year, do some fire-break you know, give them matches and all that.

Greg Wilson | Climate change and crocodiles

We had not much rain this year, only a little bit: first rain and that’s it. It’s all finished now. Bad wet season, bad weather, because of climate change. Sea will rise, sea is coming up, coming up. Right now crocodile is going up from floodplain area from billabong area, seawater coming up.

There used to be no crocodile there, used to be big mob hunting there, all people go there for magpie goose. Right now we don’t go there, wait for flying shot, afternoon evening time; too dangerous to go there to pick em up.


Hamish Gurrgurrku. Rainbow Serpent 2016 Ochre, pigment and acrylic on canvas 75 x 75 cm  

Hamish Gurrgurrku | Ngalyod (Rainbow Serpent)

‘He’s powerful that one, like an electric city’

That’s Ngalyod. We call it the white man way the Rainbow Serpent. So I’ve got the waterhole there in rock country. He always come up from that water. Same place [as the lightning spirit]. When it is his time he comes out from the water, maybe at night, you know. Coming with the big rains, the big storms coming. When the winds coming, blowing, that’s always when we see him. Maybe in the sky coming, in the clouds coming, when the winds blow, the black clouds, when we see a big storm coming. In the lightning, like a power, you know, like an electric city. He comes out from the water and just watching, like at night, and then going back again. We can see him every night going down in the rock with the water inside. That’s the story.

People they were singing that one, singing in histories, in law. He’s powerful that one. … Everywhere in the country he is living you know, in this world. All of this is Rainbow Dreaming. We draw in painting, our country.


Greg Wilson Buffalo on flood plain 2015 Ochre, pigment and acrylic on Revere paper 24 x 24 cm

Greg Wilson | Buffalo on the Floodplain

We’ve got buffalo and we’ve got big mob puddles, buffalo puddles, ruining all the land. These are buffalo hollows. That’s how they mark our land, can’t find them like long-necked turtles, because of the buffalo footprints. The buffalo, he push them down with his foot. They stay there or die there. Suffocate. They kill them you know, squash them, their shell is soft.

They run through water lilies, spike-rush. Floodplains, dry land, topland, this area they go rubbing all the trees, break ‘em. They go rub on all the paint sometimes, they go rub on all the walls in the rock country, they rub them. Pig and him. And they go down floodplain.  When you shoot them, they get angry, they chase you. Rangers trying to make the numbers down. All over country. … It’s working; country coming back a little bit. But fire’s coming up now, destroy all the grass here.


Greg Wilson. feral cat and kitten with stomach contents. 2016 Ochre, pigment and acrylic on canvas 48 x 48 

Greg Wilson | Feral Cats and Captain Cook

We got kitten here, cat, pussy cat, Balanda cat. … First one they came, this mob, cat. Back in sixties, long time. Feral cats. … They killing all the goanna, all the bird, and the possum. We can’t find them now, the little honey-eating one. We set-em-up camera in the billabong there or inland area, and then in the camera we see this mob, cats, and cane toad and pig. Then we set camera there and next day can’t find him, this guy. Marsupial left. They’re hiding somewhere because of pussycat and cane toad.

First Captain something, Captain Cook, he’s the one, he made the mess, mucked up this country. He bring buffalo, I don’t know where from buffalo, Indonesia maybe. They’re from there, they’re not from here. They don’t belong here. Get rid of them. This country belong to kangaroo and emu and brolga. Not cat or cane toad or buffalo.




Timothy K. Johnson Too Late Country 2016 Ochre, pigment, and acrylic on canvas on 75 x 75 cm 

Timothy James Johnson | Too late country

That’s oil. Lot of oil, all over. The country is too late. … No croc, no fish, no shark, no stingray. Maybe dead seagull be flying or maybe dying from oil. Dead fish under the water. They been gone from coal mining, gas, that’s why I draw this picture. … If it’s too late, it’s too late. … Dead fish, floating on top. Dead fish, dead seagull, no good water, dead animal. We’ve got to try to stop it before it’s too late. We fight for it.


Ivan Namarnyilk The Troublemaker.  2015 Ochre, pigment and acrylic on Revere paper 48 x 48 cm

Ivan Namarnyilk | The Troublemaker

This is stone country, like a shelter, you know. At the bottom of the shelter you can look at all the rock art painting. This fella, he’s destroying it, damaging this rock art. Old story. Ancestors’ story. We didn’t have pig before, even buffalo too. This one feral animal.

We didn’t have feral animal before. We had goanna, fish, turtle, kangaroo, and some snake and some spirit, mimih spirit. So this troublemaker, he’s destroying all of our painting, this rock art here. Damaging stories, like in old days, long time, long time ago.

When we go out on the flatter country we go to site to look for rock art site, we always see him, rubbing it painting, damaging it too. Fire too. Pig, other animal and fire damaging rock art, but especially this mob here. The troublemaker. So maybe we're going to put stories of this one, troublemaker, damaging our land.

I like this nice beautiful background. The picture is like an old painting. Old painting, you know. I draw a pig there, something new. I like this. It’s beautiful. But this – I hate this bloke. Because I’m a ranger, I hate this bloke. It’s making me worried. There’s this painting there, nice beautiful painting, and this old troublemaker they always go there, disturbing the paintings. We don’t like these animals. They’re troublemakers. They always go rubbing against the wall, this beautiful painting. When I go out and see this I think, ‘hey, troublemaker’. Mark it on CyberTracker, put all the story there, damaging story, you know. Mark it, record, download it into the database.

It’s infected already. We’ve got big mob population this mob here, pig and buffalo. 95,000 buffalo here, in the Northern Territory. You go out to this place called Ji-balbal, it’s beautiful floodplain. The tracks, thousands, thousands of them. Buffalo track. Too many tracks. Covered, the flood plain. Hollows. Hard ground, pushing down, more, killing turtle, destroying water chestnut. Bush food, turtle everything. And this mob, they’re spreading weeds too. They’re spreading mimosa. One place, Ji-balbal, it’s like a different ecology. One here, big mob mimosa there, one here mimosa. That’s why we try to get rid of them there. But we’re busy, busy, busy back here. Especially ranger.

In long time, long days, we didn’t have buffalo and pigs. We only have turtle, wallaby, bush tucker. In this stage, we have buffalo and pigs, and they damaging. … Rangers we see them out on the floodplain damaging, all these buffalo and pigs. We not going to leave these buffalo in the floodplain area, we’re going to get rid of them. We’re going to shoot them. In the waterhole, maybe we’re going to put some fence around in the floodplain.


Hamish Gurrgurrku. Big Grass in Rock Country 2016 Ochre, pigment and acrylic on canvas 75 x 75 cm

Hamish Gurrgurrku | Big Grass in Rock Country

‘Spirit is everywhere: in the grasses, in the hills, in part of my country.’

That’s what we call the Namarden – lightning spirit – this little one, standing with a hill on the country, his home. Where he’s sitting, just like on a rock, sitting down, watching all that hill country. This is where they smell all country, if someone is there, dead and they’ll find him. He smells when people they die, and he goes every night to people, grab their spirit and take it to his home. Little ones, little lightning spirit. He listens when people they die like here or everywhere. Same men and women and baby.

He’s a spirit that one, living in the hill, little bit rock country. All this stuff is grass, the green grass in his home living in the camp. Like a long grass waving you know. That’s the water there for him when he drinks. He collects the spirit and takes it to his place when they’re sleeping. Like now, he sees us, but we can’t see. Spirit is everywhere: in the grasses, in the hills, in part of my country. That’s why I draw it.

It’s my father’s painting and I saw him. We paint it down, sometimes we thinking from memory and how we are doing, with the paint. It’s good to tell the story.

Hamish Gurrgurrku | Painting Materials

‘Painting’s new, new art.’


Hamish Gurrgurrku. Photo Hugo Sharp

We find bush brush in the creek, you know. In the water. Growing him up, growing him up. Sometimes here, in the creek side, or sometimes in waterway. Good stuff. Strong one. We can use for one month or two months long ago. So when we get going rarrk, we can get going other ones. Sometimes we cut it here and we can make it. Sometimes when it gets going rubbish, we can clean it up, and keep going. It can last long time.

I went to my mother country to see what they painting, what the old people draw, in the beginning. They put it in the rock. In the rarrk, for long time they was used in the bark too, just use put that draw. Not painting like that one. Sometimes I can draw, you know, like in history, in law. Sometimes it’s my way. Painting’s new, new art.


Jennifer Wurrkidj. Old time bush tucker... 2016 Ochre, pigment and acrylic on canvas 75 x 75 cm

Jennifer Wurrkidj | Rock Country

‘We know our memory from old people’

Before, when old people were in hunting area, in rock way, there was like goanna, mainly like goanna. Cane toad came and make, you know, kill the goanna. I just put story for this in long time ago. They’re staying in eel site and cooking all that animal and yam they carrying, before, in long time ago. When old people was carrying dilly bag and they put in that dilly bag and they carry all that yam or turtle or goanna or kangaroo. That’s all them grass in eel site in rock country. They always make a fire and cook. That’s wallaby and goanna and two barra and two turtle and two yam. That’s the baby mimih, and there like mother and father. Father he was carrying a spear, like double-spear and spear. Before. And mother was carrying a dillybag and digging stick and yam.


It changed. They explain for us, old people, so we can understand when we draw, in picture. We know our memory from old people, and we keep it in memory. They’re stories about in old history. My grandmother, my grandfather. Some we know like in old history, some people they don’t know, they can’t understand like in old history stories. They’re coming like new people. So that’s the story now. When we walk and when we see all these grass, like when we’re going in hill. Different grass when we going in here, that little sharp one. Like my partner area in rock country, lots of grass there like this. So that’s the story now.

Greg Wilson | Rangers and Fire


Greg Wilson. Hot burn on Country 2016  Ochre, pigment and acrylic on canvas 48 x 48 cm 

I’m Greg Wilson. I do Djelk work. I do fire-fighting.

I’m going to go look after my land, my nanna’s land, my dad’s land, my uncle. I’m not from here, I’m from Cadell, near Ji-balbal. My mum is from Buluhkaduru, she’s from rock country. My mum’s from there, my Dad’s from sea country, right in the middle there somewhere. Gupanga area, Blyth River, he’s from there, An-barra man and Gun-nartpa. Both languages. But we’re really from Blyth River, me and dad.

I never went to school, I went down school at outstation, school in ceremony, not enough school. I’ll be with all the old people, learning, stay with the old people. Never used paper, used paperbark, drawing, learning. No pen, grass, no pen.  Sing them, my old man taught me. He’s gone, finish, he had heart attack, he had stroke, all that. He died quickly.

This painting here is all about fire, fire all the time. Here I stop, stop this fire. Killing all the native animals, trees, land, so I might stop this fire, all this time. This one I’m trying to put it out. Big fire coming this way. This fire is going here, destroying all our art like this, art, rock. Sometimes even going there. No good if you don’t look after fire; no grass, no animals.

We use blower to stop them and drip torch to send the fire this way, back burn, to stop it going right up to art. It’s smoky and they get black. You can’t find it, all that art, black from this fire, big fire. … You got to look after rocks. Our ancestors are on that.

Some of our mob, they’re there, still alive in the rock country. When you go in the rock country you feel them. They’re there, behind you, watching you. Even rock, they’re not rock, they’re not paintings, they’re real, they’ll watch you all day. Like talk to them, sing out; talk back, you can feel them like this (like goosebumps); ah yeah they’re here. They’re happy when you talk to them.  If you don’t talk to them, they’re unhappy. You get bushed, you get lost; they’ll put you in a cave; when you go in the cave they shut; you stay there inside and we can’t find you.


Greg Wilson. Two silly ones burning kerosene grasses in the late dry.  2016 Ochre, pigment and acrylic on canvas 48 x 48 cm 

Every year we have to plan where to burn, down rock country area, especially in the chopper, go out. … Ladies burn too. We give them matches, yep. We all start doing this early burning, right now. All of it. Big mob of country should be burnt. That’s okay, but you have to chase it, to stop it, by back-burning; put firebreak in, still doing fire-break right now, and these waiting for back fire; dangerous, sometimes smoke kill you, can’t breathe. Now got too many weeds from all over, different weeds, gamba grass, and grader grass, all over; mission grass, all over, biggest mob makes it harder.

If country is in good shape, it would have emu, water chestnut, like grass, yam, bush tucker you know, all that. Not so many emus now, from bushfire and too many guns, like shooters. From fire, because it push them away, no fruit tree for them, like not enough food for them, they move back to another place like a rock country side, they hang around there, old emu, you’ll find them there.

Big fire, big fire. Big smoke. Black ones. We’ve got to stop them, eh. We got to do early burning. Little burns. Like this time burning, quick, cut all the grass, before this mob come up, late burn. … The two there, the old man and woman I painted, they started the fire. They look for yam or goanna and those two silly ones make fire and we got to stop it. This one, local mob, any local mob that go here burning, late burning, they make strong smoke. Late burning it will be like that. Really hot because of the weeds. Too many kerosene grasses that burn like kerosene, you can’t stop them. Have to fall back and make fire brands, make fire break. Burn around sacred sites. Stop that fire.

Climate change is different fire. ... Hotter, burning stuff, burning all the trees and that. Harder to put out. You need maybe 20 team, maybe 100 team put him out, big mob team to go out and put him out.


Deborah Wurrkidj. Barramundi


Deborah Wurrkidj. Fire and woman dilly bag. 2016 Ochre, pigment and acrylic on canvas 75 x 75 cm 


Deborah Wurrkidj. Grasshoppers 2015 Ochre, pigment, acrylic on canvas 48 x 48 cm

That grasshopper. Sometimes they eating this one. Grass, they cut. Bush grass. This one mud and the river. I was drawing like that one, tree and leaves.


Lee Narlbidgrrka. Dugong, turtle, sting ray, fish 2015  Ochre, pigment and acrylic on Revere paper 48 x 48 cm 


Daniel Bonson. Cane Toad. 2015 Ochre, pigment and acrylic on Revere paper 24 x 24 cm 


Gloreen Campion. Feral pigs. 2015. Ochre, pigment and acrylic on Revere paper 24 x 24 cm 


Ivan Narmatnyilk 2015 feral Buffalo and pig on floodplain Ochre, pigmnet , acrylic on Rever paper 24 x 24 cm


Timothy K Johnson Fresh Water Dreaming 2016 48 x 48 cm Ochre, pigment on canvas 48 x 48 cm


Daniel Bonson. Flying fish story 2015. Ochre, pigment and acrylic on Revere paper 24 x 24 cm 


Ashleen Dudango. Feral Pigs and termite hills 2015 Ochre, pigment, acrulic on Revere paper 24 x 24 cm 


Deborah Wurrkidj. Yams and Waterbugs 2015 Ochre, pigment and acrylic on Revere paper 24 x 24 cm 


Ivan Namarnyilk. Mosman Grass on Floodplain 2015 Ochre, pigment and acrylic on Revere paper 24 x 24 cm


Ivan Namarnyilk 2016 Echida and termite mound 2016 Ochre, pigment and acrylic on canvas 48 x 48 cm 

He’s sick, this one. I eat echidna. It’s beautiful, tastes good. But we didn’t see for many, many years, echidna. He’s disappeared somewhere. They’re gone. Goanna, disappearing. Bandicoot, disappearing. Even other frog, they disappearing. Echidna disappearing. He should be eating ants, not mimosa and cane toad.


Ivan Namarnyilk. Narbalek Old Way. 2016 Ochre, pigment and acrylic on canvas 75 x 75 cm

When I was a kid, Lofty taught me, and also my dad, Tim. Timmy Namarnyilk. They taught me to paint. Now I'm professional.



Jennifer Wurrkidj 2015 Fresh Water Country 48 x 48 cm Acrylic and pigments on canvas


Deborah Wurrkidj. Floor Mat 2016 Ochre, pigment and acrylic on canvas 75 x 75 cm


Rosina Gunkarrwanga  Wark, waterhole story 2016 Ochre, pigment and acrylic on canvas 48 x 48 cm


Susan Marawarr. Dilly Bags 2016 Ochre, pigment and acrylic on canvas 75 x 75 cm 


Lee Narlbidgrrka. Narbalek 2015 Ochre, pigment and acrylic on Revere paper 24 x 24 cm 


Jennifer Wurrkidj 2015 Emu and butterflies , Ochre, pigments and acrylic on canvas 48 x 48 cm


Raylene Bonson. Fishing gear 2015 Ochre, pigment and acrylic on Revere paper 24 x 24 cm 


Jennifer Wurrkidj 2015 Untitled Pigment,ochre, acyrlic on Revere paper 48 x 48 cm

Balanda Arnhembrand response. Earth, fire and light

David Leece | Stone Country

Stone Country is the euphemistic name for the Arnhem Land Plateau. The plateau is the home of secret places – unlike the freshwater floodplains, the plateau is all caves and rock gorges. Water and vegetation create microclimates that promote a diverse range of landscapes, from dense tropical rainforests to dry savannah grasslands and open woodland and the paperbark forests that crowd the waterways.

This is where the Liverpool River has its source, slowly gauging through sandstone, delving deep gorges before crashing over the plateau’s edge to the floodplain below.

The waters here at the end of the dry season are spring fed, yet still flow swiftly through the paperbark forests. The river is at least fordable and a welcome cool at this time of year yet contained by deep furrows and pools that are suddenly dammed by grasses and reeds, creating spill overs that surge to the next pool. There seems no set course – just as the water flows.


David Leece  2016 Stone Creek 2 Oil and pigment on linen 75 x 75 cm


David Leece 2015 Termite mounds at Djinkarr Pigment, ochre and acrylic on Revere paper 48 x 48 cm

In this landscape rock art is the predominant expression. On shelters, cliffs, under deep sandstone overhangs gouged by some ancient sea, it seems that every surface is covered with art. Works that are painted over, pigment absorbed by the rock, stories told and retold, these works are witness to an extraordinary culture of great vitality and longevity, the ultimate witness to time.

These works are under threat – many are lost, a symptom of empty country, and many are being eroded and damaged by buffalo and pig that continually rub the surface and destroy the art.

This is a secret country. And the Liverpool surges, as if trying to steal these secrets, hemmed in by paperbark, flayed by grass and reed.


David Leece 2015 Stone Creek Lagoon Oil and pigment on canvas 48 x 48 cm


David Leece 2016 Stone Creek 3 Oil and on canvas 75 x 75 cm


David Leece 2016 Stone Creek 1 Oil and pigment on canvas 48 x 48 cm


David Leece 2016 Stone Creek Lagoon 2 Oil and pigment on camvas 48 x 48 cm

Mandy Martin | Savanna Burning

On many trips to Arnhem Land I have encountered burning time, when local people and Djelk Rangers apply fire to the landscape, practising the many different kinds of wurrk tradition. My suite of paintings about fire highlights this work and its consequences. This skilled fire management maintains culture and cultural values and brings health to the environment.


Mandy Martin 2016 Cool Burn 1 Ochre, pigment and oil on linen 75 x 75 cm

As a collateral benefit, it also leads to substantial reduction in greenhouse gas emissions. This contributes to the most urgently needed international environmental reform: curbing carbon emissions. That global challenge needs immediate and deeply-considered change in dominant cultures. Much of my art practice involves coordinating art and environment projects that aim to stimulate cultural change. With this series, I want to raise awareness of the essential role that Indigenous people and communities play in maintaining our landscapes and life, at local and national levels, but also with global benefits. These people, these practices, this culture bring profound environmental benefits for all of Australia. 

Australia now has a city-based population and we need to reform our vision to a continental scale. Indigenous people and their institutions predominate over much of the Australian land mass and the northern savannas in particular. Living on homelands, and managing country, are not ‘lifestyle decisions’; they provide many services to the rest of Australia, including through ‘prescribed burning of savannas’, an accountable activity listed under the Kyoto Protocol. As measured in Australia’s National Greenhouse Gas Inventory, savanna fires contribute about 1-3% of Australia’s total emissions, with substantial reduction possible with skilled Indigenous management.







Alexander Boynes 2016 - Yam Collecting Story - 75cm x 75cm, Pigment & Enamel on Acrylic and Aluminium


Alexander Boynes 2016 - Woomera Story - 48cm x 48cm, Pigment & Enamel on Acrylic and Aluminium


Alexander Boynes 2016 - Dreaming Story - 48cm x 48cm, Pigment & Enamel on Acrylic and Aluminium


Alexander Boynes 2016 - Everywhen - 120cm x 120cm, Pigment & Enamel on Acrylic and Aluminium


Alexander Boynes 2016 - Djanggawul Sisters Story - 48cm x 48cm, Pigment & Enamel on Acrylic and Aluminium