Garma, 2009

From August 6 – 10, members of Bula’bula Arts attended the Garma Festival of Yolngu culture.  ANKAAA (the Association of Northern, Kimberley and Arnhem Aboriginal Artists Inc.) funded three Bula’bula artists and the curator to attend the annual celebration of Yolngu culture, held in the forest at Gulkula, Northeast Arnhem Land (near Nhulunbuy).  The three artists who attended the festival were ANKAAA board-member Richard Birrinbirrin, Peter Minygululu and Shirley Banalanydju.

A productive and enjoyable four days were spent camping amongst fellow artists and attending the following events:
* Garma Academic Key Forum, this year titled ‘Creative Industries’.
* the ANKAAA Arnhem Regional Meeting, where the group met with other local Art Centres and funding bodies to discuss important issues facing the individual art centres today.
* Yothu Yindu Foundation Printmaking Workshop.  Peter and Shirley each created a linocut print at the festival, with the possible opportunity of the foundation selecting their artwork for editioning.
* Visit to Buku Larrnggay Mulka Art Centre, in Yirrkala.
* Evening Bungul and entertainment.

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Bula'bula Arts - Australian Aboriginal Art Centre: Aboriginal Art, Painting & Screenprinting

Bula'bula Arts Aboriginal Corporation is located in Ramingining, a small and remote community established in central Arnhem Land in the 1970s. Located about 400km east of Darwin and 30km inland from the Arafura Sea, the township is built on land owned by the Djadawitjibi people of the Djinang group. 

The region is home to more than sixteen clans speaking fourteen different languages, and borders on the Arafura Wetlands.Ramingining has had an Indigenous art centre since the 1970s, and in 1990 a meeting of senior artists resulted in the decision to establish an independent artists organization to represent their interests. The name Bula’bula refers to the message embodied in the song-cycle of the area’s principal creative being, Garrtjambal the red kangaroo.  More literally, it translates as the tongue, or voice of the kangaroo.

Bula’bula artists are renowned for their distinctive bark and canvas paintings, dupun (hollow logs), yidaki (didgeridu), and fibre art such as mindirr (dilly bags), bush string bags and beautifully woven mats.  In addition to also producing limited edition prints on paper, Bula’bula Arts occaisonally produces locally designed screen-printed fabric and t-shirts.

Ramingining has produced many artists of renown, including Paddy Dhathangu (1914-1993), George Milpurrurru (1934-1998) and David Malangi (1927-1999), who is famous for the use his artwork on the Australian one dollar note, which was in currency until 1982.  Working painters currently include Philip Gudthaykudthay, Dorothy Djukulul, Namiyal Bopirri, Jimmy Moduk, Charlie Djurritjini, Richard Birrinbirrin, Peter Minygululu, Roy Burnyila and Bobby Bununggurr.Bula’bula also has some very accomplished fibre artists.  They include Judy Baypungala, Elizabeth Djuttara (1942-2010), Robyn Djunginy and Clara Matjandatjpi (Wubugwubuk), who was commissioned by SOCOG to produce large fibre forms for the Sydney 2000 Olympics.

More about the Ramingining region, the culture, people and art from this area can be seen on the website Twelve Canoes (

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art centre

                           Interior view of Bula'bula Arts, showing a range of artworks and objects made by the local Yolngu artists