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James lyuna


Language: Kunwinjku
Language Bloc: Bininj kunwok
Clan: Kuruk
Moiety: Duwa
Subsection: Balang
Outstation: Mumeka

Born in 1959, James lyuna has worked with his brother Johnny Mawurndjurl and has been taught by his father Anchor Kalumba - one of the most senior men living amongst the eastern Kunwinjku.

This artist is one of four brothers living at Mumeka. A remote outstation situated beside the mighty Mann River in the Stone Country which stretches in an almost unbroken line for 300 miles from Kakadu to Maningrida.

James and his three brothers had very little western education because of the difficulty of getting to a school at either Oenpelli or Maningrida, the nearest townships in Arnhem Land. Instead they spent most of their time learning the history and religion of the Kunwinjku tribe as told to them by their uncle, the late famous bark painter Peter Maralwanga.

Their own father did not paint either on rock or on bark, and died when his four sons were quite small. Maralwanga took them to his outstation about 20 miles away and taught them how to paint in his inimitable style, which featured the complex pattern of rarrk or crosshatching for which he was most famous, and included brilliant flashes of white, said to be the fossilised droppings of the Rainbow Serpent. This clay comes from a hidden deposit at a secret and sacred place to which no other artists have access.

All of the brothers, Iyuna, Mawundjal, Njiminjuma and Bandawunga achieved fame as traditional painters of the mythology taught to them by their uncle. Iyuna's work is extremely hard to acquire because of the constant demands of art galleries and private collectors. His paintings hang in major galleries, and are featured in authentic art books.

James was born in 1959. He is married and has two sons. He continues to paint at his isolated outstation, only leaving it to attend mortuary rites and secret and sacred ceremonies, for some of which he is the ceremonial leader.

Subjects and Themes:
Ngalyod Rainbow Serpent, Dilebang sacred site ('James Iyuna has depicted a billabong at a site called Dilebang. Dilebang is regarded as one of the mostdangerous and sacred of sites in the Kun-kurulk clan estate. Travel in the area is undertaken with caution as site custodians are aware of the ancestral power of the area. The billabong at Dilebang is near escarpment country rich in rock art and with high concentration of sacred sites.) rainbow serpents, Buluwana submerged ancestor at Ngandarrayo, Mandjabu conical fish trap, Kunmadj dilly bag, Mimih spirits, Assorted Macropods, Ngalkordo- brolga, Wayarra profane spirits.