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Dorothy Djukulul


Clan: Gurrumba Gurrumba
Moiety: Yirritja
Subsection: Bulanydjan
Outstation/country: Mulgurrum

Dorothy Djukulul was born at Murrwangi, on the edge of the Arafura Swamp region near Mulgurrum, Arnhem Land. One of the first women painters in central Arnhem Land Djukulul was taught to paint by her father Nhulmarmar. Djukulul is also one of the few women in Arnhem Land who can paint images that are normally restricted to men. Her father was afraid that his ‘dreamings’ might die out if anything were to happen to his son and therefore consulted and gained the permission of Elders for Djukulul to be allowed to paint the traditional designs to ensure that there would be a larger chance that the art and sacred stories of the Ganalbingu tribe were kept alive.

Djukulul was one of the artists who carved and painted ‘The Aboriginal Memorial’, an installation of 200 hollow log coffins made by artists from Arnhem Land in the late 1980s and which commemorates all the indigenous people who have died as a result of European settlement. It was first displayed at the 1988 Sydney Biennale but is now on permanent display at the National Gallery of Australia.

When she was a child her family moved to Milingimbi Island and Djukulul went to the local school established by the Methodist Mission. After finishing school Djukulul moved back to Ramingining with her family. After marrying she moved to Maningrida for a while but later move back to Ramingining after the death of her first husband.

In 1978 she married her second husband Djardie Ashley (1950), a well-known bark painter who she met in Ramingining. She and Ashley have had several joint exhibitions of their work including two shows at the Aboriginal Artist Gallery in Melbourne (1984 & 1986), where ten of their paintings were acquire for the Robert Holmes a Court Collection at the later show. Djukulul works have also been a part of a number of group exhibitions.