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This publication by Myles Russell-Cook accompanies the exhibition Bark Ladies: Eleven Artists from Yirrkala, which celebrates the National Gallery of Victoria’s extraordinary collection of work by Yolnu women artists who have worked at Buku-Larrngay Mulka Centre (Buku), in North-East Arnhem Land.
Bark Ladies: Eleven Artists from Yirrkala is an exhibition that celebrates the NGV’s extraordinary collection of work by Yolŋu women artists from the Buku-Larrŋgay Mulka Centre (Buku), in North-East Arnhem Land. Buku is the Indigenous community-run art centre located in Yirrkala, a small Aboriginal community, approximately 700 kilometres east of Darwin. Works by women from the Yirrkala region have been developing an appreciative audience, both nationally and internationally.
According to Buku, under Yolŋu Law the ‘Land’ extends to include sea, and both land and sea are connected in a single cycle of life for which the Yolŋu hold their songs, sacred designs and art. Yolŋu women at Buku are known for channelling this unique worldview into daring and innovative works of art that demonstrate their mastery over the unique medium of bark.
For more than two decades the NGV has been acquiring important works on bark by women artists from Buku, who before 2000 seldom painted on bark or made ḻarrakitj (painted hollow poles). Bark Ladies: Eleven Artists from Yirrkala is an important exhibition that brings together great singular master artists and shares their important stories with a Melbourne audience.
The exhibition highlights significant works by Noŋgirrŋa Marawili, Ms N Yunupiŋu, Gulumbu Yunupiŋu, Barrupu Yunupiŋu, Dhambit Munuŋgurr, Mulkun Wirrpanda, Naminapu Maymuru-White, and more.