Fine Australian Bark Paintings-2020

  • Fine Australian Bark Paintings-2020
  • Fine Australian Bark Paintings-2020
  • Fine Australian Bark Paintings-2020
  • Fine Australian Bark Paintings-2020
  • Fine Australian Bark Paintings-2020
  • Fine Australian Bark Paintings-2020


John Mawurndjul (born 1951)

Mardayin ceremony site

Natural earth pigments on bark

224.5cm high, 75cm wide


Maningrida catalogue no 5318-02 Label to verso.

Annandale Galleries Sydney.

Private Collection. Palm Beach, Sydney, NSW.


This painting refers to a site at Mumeka, which is an outstation in the artist’s clan estate in the Mann River region.

The Mardayin ceremony performance site is located on a large Billabong covered in waterlilies. This place is about 50k’s south of Maningrida, in Central North Arnhem Land

The lengths of raark or cross-hatching which cover this painting represent components of body painting designs on young boys in the ceremony. However it is difficult to divide the design into parts. The painting as a whole refers to the Mardayin ceremony while its lengths of raark within it are burrkno, depicting the body of the ceremony itself.

Reference: For a closely related smaller work of the same year in collection of Colin and Elizabeth Laverty see: Beyond Sacred. Australian Aboriginal Art. The Laverty Collection, Deutscher-Hackett, 8 March 2015 lot 124. ( Sold for $120,000 inc BP )

John Mawurndjul was born in 1952 at Kubukkan in Arnhem land to an intensely artistic family. Success came in the early 1980’s for Mawurndjul with exhibitions in Canberra, Sydney and Melbourne and by the end of the 1980’s his works were being placed into many of our national institutional collections.

In 1988 at the fifth National Aboriginal Art Award (now the Telstra National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Art Awards), Mawurndjul won the Rothmans Foundation Award for the best painting in traditional media for his work Ngalyod (1988) An award he was to win several times. Later the same year his work is included in the exhibition Dreamings: The Art of Aboriginal Australia opens at the Asia Society Galleries in New York.

From then on, Mawurndjul’s work is included in numerous International exhibitions at many of the world’s leading art institutions and his name is established as the most important artist of his generation and genre.

In August 2002 (the same year that this work was created) at the 19th Telstra National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Art Awards, Mawurndjul is awarded the Telstra Bark Painting Award for his work Buluwana (2002), now held in the collection of the Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney.

Later this same year Apolline Cohen took over as Director at Maningrida, so we know this work dates to around November that year as Apolline has signed the certificate on the back of this work.

In 2010 Mawurndjul is awarded a Member of the Order of Australia (AM) “for service to the preservation of Indigenous culture as the foremost exponent of the rarrk visual art style”

In 2018 The Museum of Contemporary Art staged the first leg of the their major and widely acclaimed retrospective: John Mawurndjul: I am the old and the new, which was exhibited for three months at the MCA, before travelling to the Art Gallery of South Australia, where it was shown for a further three and a half months, as part of the Tarnanthi Festival of Contemporary Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Art.