An image of Woman with Dilly Bags and Dilly Bag Hat

Marlene Rubuntja

(Australia 1961 – )

Alice Springs, Central Desert region
Language group
Western Arrernte, Central Desert region

Woman with Dilly Bags and Dilly Bag Hat

20th & 21st c Australian art
Further information

Marlene Rubuntja is the sister of acclaimed watercolourist Mervyn Rubuntja and daughter of Wenten Rubuntja, an activist and artist who was a leader in the movement that assisted in the development of town camps for Aboriginal peoples in Mparntwe (Alice Springs). Rubuntja is a gem of the desert, creating works that advocate for mental health awareness. She often speaks of how sewing changed her life - that she was very sad and troubled and by working at the art centre she has found a place of happiness and purpose where she can express herself. Rubuntja has worked hard for opportunities that have opened her world in ways previously not possible.

Rubuntja’s works are imbued with humour, while poignantly referencing her distinct cultural and social understandings of her hometown, Mparntwe. In this work Rubuntja colourfully adorns a female figure, joyously walking along with dilly bags in hand. Vibrant, excessive and somewhat comical, the figure highlights the importance of happiness and joy in our everyday lives.

Rubuntja also works with animation and in printmaking. She won the Vincent Lingiari art award in 2016, and she was a finalist at the 2011 TogArt Contemporary Art Awards; the 2017 and 2019 Telstra National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Art Awards; and the 2019 Vincent Lingiari Art Award. Rubuntja is represented in state and regional galleries across Australia, including the University of Newcastle; Art Gallery of South Australia; National Gallery of Victoria; Maitland Regional Gallery; and Araluen Arts Centre.

Place of origin
Alice Springs, Northern Territory, Australia
Cultural origin
Western Arrernte, Central Desert region
Sculpture, Textile
mixed media, plastic, woollen blankets dyed with bush plants, cotton, wool, hessian, feathers
26.0 x 31.0 x 34.0 cm
Purchased with funds provided by the Aboriginal Collection Benefactors' Group 2019
Accession number
© the artist, courtesy Yarrenyty Arltere Artists