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Dhuwarrwarr Marika

1946

Moiety: Dhuwa
Homeland: Yirrkala, Yalangbara, Gulurunga, Bremer Island
Clan: Rirratjingu, Miliwurrwurr
Language: Dhangu

Dhuwarrwarr Marika is a notable artist and community leader from Arnhem Land and is an executive member and the women’s council representative for the Northern Land Council. She is also on many other local and national communities.

Dhuwarrwarr worked as a nurse at Yirrkala, Darwin and Sydney after finishing school. After returning home she began to develop her art skills. This included learning basketry from her mother and aunt and painting from her father, Mawalan Marika (1908-1967). Mawalan was a highly regarded leader of the Rirratjingu people of north-east Arnhem Land and one of the signatories to the famous 1960s Bark Petitions presented to the federal government. Mawalan was also the founder of the Marika artistic dynasty and famously broke convention by teaching his oldest daughters including Dhuwarrwarr how to paint along with his sons. Dhuwarrwarr in fact is believed by many (including Professor Howard Morphy and herself) to be the first Yolngu woman authorised to paint sacred designs on her own.

Dhuwarrwarr has over the years become increasingly active as a bark painter, carver, mat maker and printmaker. Murals done by her can be seen for at Darwin Airport, the Batchelor Institute of Indigenous Tertiary Education, the Atherton School in Queensland and community buildings at Yirrkala.

Her first solo exhibition ‘Milngurr – The Sacred Spring’, Vivien Anderson Gallery, Melbourne (2008) was a great success and was sold out within 5 minutes of opening. Her work has also been a part of a number of group exhibitions including ‘Art of Aboriginal’, touring Canada Rothmans of Pall Mall Canada Ltd (1974 - 1976); ‘Sisters Miyalku Exhibition of Aboriginal Women’s work’, Australian Museum, Sydney (1987); ‘Paintings and Sculptures from Yirrkala, North East Arnhem Land’, Lyttleton Gallery, Melbourne (1989); ‘Miny’tji Buku-Larrnggay, Paintings from the East’, National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne (1995); ‘The Painters of the Wagilag Sisters Story 1937 - 1997’, National Gallery of Australia, Canberra (1997); ‘Buku-Larrnggay Mulka Printmakers Exhibition’, University of the Northern Territory Art Gallery, Darwin (1998); ‘Bark Paintings and Lino Cut Prints – Dhuwarrwarr Marika and Gaymala Yunupingu’, Japingka Gallery, Fremantle (1998); ‘Saltwater Country – Bark Paintings from Yirrkala National Tour’, Drill Hall Gallery, Australian National University, Canberra; John Curtin Gallery, Curtin University, Perth; National Australian Maritime Museum, Sydney; Heide Museum of Modern Art, Melbourne; Araluen Art Centre, Alice Springs (1999); ‘Bulayi – Small Gems’, Suzanne O’Connell Gallery, Brisbane (2006); ‘Masterworks’, Vivien Anderson Gallery, Melbourne (2006); ‘Gapan Gallery – Print Exhibition’, Garma Festival, North-East Arnhem Land (2006); ‘Galuku Gallery – Print Exhibition’, Darwin Festival, Darwin (2006); ‘Gapan Gallery – Japanese Woodblock Print Exhibition’, Garma Festival, North-East Arnhem Land (2007); ‘Galuku Gallery – Japanese Woodblock Print Exhibition’, Darwin Festival, Darwin (2007); ‘Milngurr’, Vivien Anderson Gallery, Melbourne (2008); ‘Floating Life – Contemporary Aboriginal Fibre Art’, Gallery of Modern Art, Brisbane (2009); ‘Djirrirra and Dhuwarrwarr, Bark Paintings at Santa Fe’, Chiaroscuro Gallery, Santa Fe, New Mexico (2010) and ‘Gapan Gallery’, Garma Festival, North-East Arnhem Land (2014).

Marika work is represented in national and international collections including the National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne; South Australian Museum, Adelaide; Art Gallery of NSW, Sydney; Australian Capital Equity Collection, Perth; Museum and Art Gallery of the Northern Territory, Darwin; Kluge-Ruhe Aboriginal Art Collection, University of Virginia, USA; Berndt Museum, Perth; Nahum Collection, London, UK; Kerry Packer Collection and the Kelton Family Collection.