Major projects

Australian Indigenous Art Commission, Musée du Quai Branly, Paris

In 2004, John Mawurndjul was selected by curators Hetti Perkins and Brenda L. Croft as one of eight Aboriginal artists whose artwork would comprise a prestigious site-specific commission for the Musée du Quai Branly in Paris.

As observed by Hetti Perkins at the opening of the museum in June 2006, this commission marked a significant shift in European perceptions of Australian Aboriginal art, and cemented Mawurndjul’s reputation as a ‘maestro’ and one of Australia’s top artists.

Mardayin at Milmingkan, 2006

The subject of Mardayin at Milmingkan (2006) relates to designs that have appeared throughout the history of bark painting. It is inspired by the ceremonial body painting of the Kurulk clan of Mawurndjul’s homeland, Milmingkan.

Mawurndjul supervised artisans and technicians to paint the massive artwork, which is an innovative large-scale rendition of his unique rarrk (cross-hatching) style. Mardayin at Milmingkan (2006) forms 100 square metres of ceiling space on the ground floor.

Mardayin, 2005

Mawurndjul also created Mardayin (2005), a contemporary site-specific interpretation of a lorrkon (hollow log) sculpture. He spent three weeks painting this artwork onto a five-metre column on the museum’s ground floor.

John Mawurndjul, working in-situ at the Musee du Quai Branly, Paris, 2006. Image courtesy of MAC.

The Australian Indigenous Art Commission was facilitated by the Australia Council for the Arts at the invitation of the French Government.

Brisbane Airport Corporation, Queensland

Lena Yarinkura was commissioned to create a permanent public art installation in Brisbane’s Airport Village. She produced a number of expressive cast aluminium camp dogs that are wittily positioned in the village. At the time of the installation in 2008, she told stories about her own pack of 27 jamu, dogs, which she described as her protectors. Yarinkura first worked on cast metal techniques with Urban Art Projects in 2000.

Darwin Entertainment Centre Forecourt, Northern Territory

Kuninjku artists James Iyuna and Melba Gunjarrwanga (husband and wife) were commissioned by Troppo Architects to create a unique ceiling structure for the forecourt of the Darwin Entertainment Centre. The ceiling is silhouetted against the translucent fibreglass roof of the large verandah and is dramatically lit at night.

Iyuna (the son of renowned fish-trap maker Anchor Kalunba) and Gunjarrwanga drew on their skills as weavers to develop a concept distilling the importance of traditional fishing techniques, of weaving in Kuninjku society, and the story of the fish-net fences and fish traps of Mumeka, Iyuna’s father’s country to the south of Maningrida.

The artists wove flexible recycled copper wire onto a frame of copper piping, using different colours and varying patterns to create the shimmer of rarrk and other visual effects. It is an inspired re-interpretation of a mun-dirra, the fish-net fence that was used in conjunction with a mandjabu, conical fish trap, often yielding a rich harvest of fish, particularly barramundi.

The civic space featuring Iyuna and Gunjarrwanga’s woven ceiling won two architectural awards in 2008: the AIA (NT) Urban Design Award and the AIA (NT) Public Architecture Award.

Darwin International Airport, Northern Territory

A sculptural forest of nine wooden mimih spirit figures and four metal works by some of Maningrida’s leading artists. Debra Wurrkidj, Dustin Bonson, Jennifer Wurrkidj, Lena Wood, Owen Yalandja, Melba Gunjarrwanga, Paul Nabulumo Namarinjmak and Roberta Yulyul Wurrkidj designed, sculpted and painted the wooden mimihs. The cast metal works were produced from designs created by Owen Yalandja, Susan Marawarr, Melba Gunjarrwanga and Timothy Wulanjbirr.

The artwork is located in front of the Darwin International Airport terminal and was officially launched in October 2008.

Maningrida Community Education Centre

The Maningrida Community Education Centre commissioned Maningrida’s first official public art in 2000: a 2.5m high bronze mimih figure by Albert Worridjol. It was installed in the grounds of the school.

National Museum of Australia, Canberra

In 2000, Anbarra elder Frank Gurrmanamana was commissioned by the National Museum of Australia to construct a conical fishtrap for the museum’s permanent display.

New Zealand Memorial, Canberra

Daisy Nadjungdanga worked with Urban Art Projects to design an element of New Zealand artist Kingsley Baird’s monumental New Zealand Memorial. A design inspired by Nadjungdanga’s woven coiled baskets is laid in multi-coloured pavers on the western side of Baird’s sculpture. The New Zealand Memorial was launched in April 2001.

Walama Forecourt, Sydney International Airport

In 1999, Susan Marawarr collaborated with Waanyi artist Judy Watson to develop Watson’s public art commission for Sydney International Airport. The bronze sculptural installation is an interpretation of fish-net fences and dillybags and it was launched in 2000.