Bonba By Kathy Marawili

Bonba By Kathy Marawili

Regular price $750.00

  • Artist: Kathy Marawili, nee Liyawaday Wirrpanda
  • Title: Bonba
  • Moiety: Dhuwa
  • Region Born: Miwatj Region, East Arnhem Land
  • Region Residing: Baniyala, Blue Mud Bay, East Arnhem Land
  • Language: Yolgnu Matha
  • Medium: Acrylic on Board
  • Size: 40cm x 50cm



A Dhudi-Djapu family was living at Garrangali. The man and his wife had 5 daughters, who were all beautiful. The parents went hunting one day for stingray at Bulkawuy leaving their daughters behind. Then there was the man Gurrutjurtjur lurking, he thought he would go and join with those young girls and started to make jokes with them. He wanted them to run a race to see who was the fastest. The course was set and Gurrutjurtjur set them off. The course had the girls run out then around past where Gurrutjurtjur lay in wait. The eldest of the sisters was the fastest and the one he felt keenest towards. He grabbed her as she ran past and bundled her of to his place which was over the other side from Garrangali at Garrawadwuy. Here he kept her locked up.

The remaining girls told their father on his return that their sister was taken by Nyela (Gurrutidjurr’s other name) to his camp. The father was outraged and started a ceremony to bring his daughter back – a powerful performance intoning her name and willing her to turn into a butterfly (Bonba). 

So she did and was able to escape through the small cracks of her confinement and fly back like an angel, with beautiful face and wings of a butterfly to her family.


Kathy is the third wife of award-winning artist Djambawa Marawili AM. She lives with him at his homeland of Baniyala at Blue Mud Bay where she has assisted with many of his major works.

Prior to assisting her husband, she helped her mother, Galuma Maymuru, and her father, Dhukal Wirrpanda with their work.

She now also consistently produces work in her own right drawing on her own Dhudi Djapu clan designs which her father shared with her. 

Kathy’s first exhibition was at Annandale in 2009 and marked her coming of age as an artist. It was at her husband’s insistence that she step out from his shadow.


Bäniyala is a tiny community of Aboriginal Australian people, known as a homeland, situated on Blue Mud Bay in the Gulf of Carpentaria in East Arnhem Land in the Northern Territory of Australia, located 210 kilometres from Nhulunbuy. It is home to about 150 Yolŋu people.

Djambawa Marawili

In the early 1980s, Marawili began painting, incorporating the idea of buwuyak (invisibility) in his works, which was an innovative change in the Yolngu art tradition. His paintings often show the Yathikpa ancestral story of the bay where Bäru turned into a crocodile from a human figure. With works that capture both innovation and tradition, Marawili has become one of the most significant artists from the Yolngu community. Because his works capture tradition and historical meanings, the paintings of Marawili are also used as a source of history and records, especially in the legal battle to protect the right of the Yolngu land.


In addition to leading ceremonies, he ensures the spiritual well-being of his people including members from other clans. Acting as an activist and administrator, Marawili serves to connect the Yolngu people and non-Aboriginal people, bringing awareness to the Aboriginal people and serving as a bridge between the two group.