An image of Djaykung (File snakes)

Mithinari Gurruwiwi

(Australia 1929 – 01 Nov 1976)

Yirrkala, Arnhem region
Language group
Galpu, Arnhem region

Djaykung (File snakes)

Not on display
Further information

Mithinari Gurruwiwi was an exceptional and prolific artist from the Blue Mud Bay area of north-east Arnhem Land. Born in 1929, Gurruwiwi was taught to paint by Mawalan Marika and his works predominantly refer to the Galpu clan’s lands around Caledon Bay and Garrimala, further inland. Gurruwiwi’s works offer a seamless combination of figurative elements and abstract clan designs. His exquisite infilling techniques of delicate dots, fine lines and intricate cross-hatching, contrasted with bold areas of pure colour, enliven his works. This is especially evident in this work, one of the finest bark paintings in the Gallery’s collection. Completed when Gurruwiwi was only 30, the work depicts waterlily-covered billabongs that are home to plump file snakes, valued food sources that are just part of the riches to be found in Galpu country.

Place of origin
Yirrkala, North-east Arnhem Land, Northern Territory, Australia
circa 1960
Bark painting
natural pigments on eucalyptus bark
280.0 x 70.0 cm (irreg.)
Signature & date

Not signed. Not dated.

Gift of Professor Harry Messel 1987
Accession number
© Estate of Mithinari Gurruwiwi. Licensed by Aboriginal Artists Agency Ltd