Aboriginal Art

Boyd untitled

Untitled 2012 by Daniel Boyd, UA2013.5

The Art Collection has a small number of bark paintings, woven baskets and implements from the Northern Territory. These include ochre paintings on bark that portray aspects of spiritual and ceremonial life of the Aboriginal people of Eastern Arnhem Land. A significant painting in the Collection is by Joe Djembangu. Born about 1935, Djembangu is a senior custodian for the ceremonial cycles of the ancestral Sisters of the Wagilag and Witlji, the olive python. He is a member of the Gupapuyngu language group, of the Yirritja moiety and has a kinship relationship to the country where the waterhole at Mirarrmina on the upper Wollen River is located through his wife, senior artist Daisy Manybunnharrawuy. This relationship gives him the authority to paint in the style normally associated with the Dhuwa moiety.

There is also a group of eight watercolours in the Collection from the 1940s by artists from Hermannsburg, Central Australia. Walter Ebatarinja (1915–1968), and the Pareroultja brothers Edwin, Rubin and Otto of the Western Arrernte linguistic group were inspired by the example of Albert Namatjira when he began painting in watercolour at Hermannsburg in 1936 following an exhibition by western artist Rex Battarbee at the Mission School. Several of these were gifted from the estate of A P Elkin, Professor in Anthropology at the University from 1934. Elkin undertook field research in the Central desert and the Kimberley region on Aboriginal genealogies and kinship groups during the 1930s and 40s. He was the author of several books on Aboriginal religious beliefs.

The aim of this collection is to add to the representation of contemporary and historically significant art by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander artists. Works by England Bangala, Roy Burnyila and Jacky Tjakamarra have recently been donated to the collection by Dr David Edwards. Recent acquisitions include works by Daniel Boyd and Christian Thompson.