West Arnhem Artists
Kabbindi Lorraine White
Dreaming: Native bees
Lorraine Kabbindi White is a Gunmok woman and artist from Kabulwarnamyo community on the Mok Clan estate known as Ankung Djang. Ankung Djang ‘Bush-honey Dreaming’ reflects the clan’s spiritual and totemic connection to the small native stingless bees. Kabulwarnamyo is at the heart of Central Arnhem Land. The people from that region refer to themselves as Nawarddeken – Stone Country people, The people of the vast Central Arnhem Land sandstone plateau. Kabbindi draws on the artistic heritage of her people and in particular her grandfather, the late Lofty Bardayal Nadjamerrek AO.
Social Affiliations: Yirridjdja (moiety), Nawakadj (subsection)
Gabriel Maralngurra was among the founding members of Injalak Arts in the late 1980s, and continues to be a driving force behind the art centre today. Painting at Injalak since 1989 Gabriel's artistic practice is reflected in the breadth and depth of the subjects he paints, his fluent linework and highly original compositions. Maralngurra's work can be seen in periods, both in terms of style and subject matter, as he explores one artistic avenue after another. However behind this tireless experimentation his own confident and fluid style is unmistakeable, always balancing studied naturalism with a strong sense of design and stylisation. He attributes much of his artistic education to senior painter Thompson Yulidjirri in the early days of Injalak.
He is continually inspired by the rock art of West Arnhem Land, always referencing and working within this artistic tradition while pursuing formal innovations and new designs. His knowledge of stories, plants and animals gives him a wide range expressive material. His work has also explored the contact period in the Gunbalanya area, culminating in a solo exhibition 'Contact' at Mossenson Galleries in Melbourne in 2006.
He is an ambassador and mediator for Kunwinjku culture, having worked many years as a tour guide, Kunwinjku-English translator, Injalak board member and president, screenprinter and travelling widely around Australia for openings and launches. He is currently Co-Manager of Injalak. In September 1995 he travelled to Shanghai to represent the art centre at an Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade Exhibition of paintings from Injalak.
As a founder, it is in large part Maralngurra's vision and belief in the mission of the art centre that has allowed it to carry on and thrive. He has helped create a place where the Art History of West Arnhem Land can be continued, developed, experienced by others and apprenticed to younger generations.
In January 2020, Gabriel undertook a residency at the Kluge Ruhe Collection in Virginia while he opened two exhibitions of work.
Graham Rostron is a cultural teacher, artist, dancer, musician and song man.
‘My Father died when I was just crawling. I did not know him. Then we were living at Madjinbardi. Then we went to Maningrida to be with family, following my mother.
My second dad brought me up at his outstation at Korlorbirrahda. His name is Tom Noytuna- you may have seen a photograph of him on an orange phone with lots of ceremonial paint on his face. Korlorbirrahda is a long way out into the Great Arnhem Plateau.
He was keeping me when I was little and he showed me hunting and painting and explaining to me everything. He gave me confidence.’
Skin: Ngal Kodjok
Dreaming: Kabo (Green Ant)
Aysha Alderson, a young Murumburr Tradition Owner of the Cooinda region in Kakadu National Park, has lived in Kakadu all her life. Daughter to senior influential and strong traditional owner, Mick Alderson (dec.) and Anna Pettersson, Aysha has grown up learning culture from her family. The Murumburr Clan group traditionally spoke the language Gagadju, which is where the word Kakadu is derived from.
Aysha’s father, Mick Alderson was instrumental in the development in what is now Kakadu’s Board of Management, Gagadju Association and establishing the Yellow Water Cruises as well as the Crocodile Hotel. Mick’s father was Yorky Billy the famous buffalo hunter and his mother was Minnie (Kabbindi), a Marrirn woman. Mick married Anna, and had four children, William, Frear, Jordon and Aysha. Mick sadly passed away when Aysh was three. One of Mick’s most important legacies was ensuring tourist access to specific sites within Kakadu National Park was consulted and achieved in a culturally sensitive manner, that maintained the integrity and significance of the sites.
Aysha’s artistic influence has come from her surroundings and her love for river systems. In 2017 Aysha started work with Marrawuddi Arts (then Gallery) as an arts worker. Through print workshops facilitated by Marrawuddi in collaboration Andrew Blake and Anna-Jane Lark, Aysha developed a keen interest in printmaking, particularly experimenting with inks.
Aysha’s keen interest in hunting and fishing on country, transcribes through her print making and experimental ink works.
Representing weather systems, the stone country and river ways throughout Kakadu. Aysha also experiments in storytelling through printmaking by portraying tongue in cheek, every-day events of her family and friends’ hunting culture.
Robert has lived in the area now known as Kakadu National Park for most of his life. His father was living here in the 1960s when Robert was born, away from his ancestral lands in western Arnhem Land. His father, Spider Namirrkki Nabunu, was known as ‘clever’ man (with special powers) and a ceremonial leader, but he died when Robert was young and Robert barely remembers him. He was a bark artist of west Arnhem Land whose work appeared in early exhibitions of Oenpelli bark paintings, which now are held in museums and galleries Australia wide.
Robert was brought up by his father’s brother – another West Arnhem artist, Jimmy Kalarriya (Galareya) Namarnyilk. Jimmy taught Robert and his two brothers Neville and Ivan ancestral lore and how to paint. He also learnt to paint first from his step father, Joshua Bangarr, and later from sitting with his mother’s uncle, Dick Nguleingulei Mirrimirri, and his uncle’s friend Lofty Bardayal Nadjamarrek, while they painted.
In his early 40’s Robert became a notable artist in his own right, who knows and understands much of his people’s customs and imbues his paintings with such. Like his father and uncle before him, he is an artist and does not generally use cross hatching in his work, but rather long parallel lines also seen in the world of his old teachers and mentors. Robert has an extremely fine hand and his linework is immaculate in its precision and placement.
When Robert can, he travels to his mother’s country at Marlgawo in West Arnhem Land to paint and study the rock art of this country as further inspiration for his paintings. His work is now in many private homes around the world and he is increasingly sought for small commissions in the Kakadu/Darwin community.
Robert often paints barrk and djugerre, the male and female black wallaroo, as well as figures from his dreaming, such as the green plum ancestor, and he creates his own interpretations of the rock art of the country at Marlgawo and elsewhere.
In 2003 and 2004 Robert’s work was selected in the finals of the Telstra National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Art Award.
At the end of the 2006 he returned to his characteristic dreaming figures and ancestral spirits in a show with Don Namundja and his uncle Jimmy Kalarriya Namarnyilk in Sydney. In 2007 his inspiration was drawn mainly from the Marlgawo rock art and the wildlife of the Kakadu and West Arnhem region.