Date of birth : 1953
Language : Djinang / Manharrngu
Clan : Manyarrngu
Social Affiliations : Dhuwa moiety, Balang subsection
Birrinbirrin is the son of Malangi’s older brother, George Buridna (b.1920- dec.). After his father died, Birrinbirrin was instructed in yolngu customs by his ‘second father’, David Malangi 1927- 1993).
Malangi taught Birrinbirrin to paint and to make sand sculptures for ceremony. Like Malangi, Birrinbirrin has a deeply resonant voice, singing the clan songs for his mothers (Balmbi) country.
“I started painting in the 1980s. Me, Jimmy Barnabul (1958-1994), Charlie Djota (1951-dec.), John Dhurrikayu. Right, this is your chance for painting (my father said). When Malangi painted he told (us) the stories. When I go, you can do painting for your own country and stories. Don’t paint other peoples --you got to get permission from the elders (he said).
“From my side, my father’s side, I paint only two stories: that’s Djang’kawu (Sisters) and Gurrmirringu.
When the Djang’kawu get to my country, that’s Manyarrngu country, that’s where they left their sacred dilly bag. They come from the sunrise and named all the places, all the trees and ngatha (vegetable food) on the way. They changed their language at each place where they stopped and gave yolngu all their clans, making waterholes and naming places”.
Birrinbirrin is a trained Health Worker and worked at the Ramingining Clinic during the 1980s. Well travelled in his youthful days, Birrinbirrin is known as “the man of many languages” as he speaks several languages, not just from the Arnhem Land area but also from the Kimberleys and the Tanami Desert.
Birrinbirrin was the Chairman of Bula’bula Arts Aboriginal Corporation from 2002 to 2005. He is on the Executive of ANKAAA (Association of Northern Kimberley and Arnhem Aboriginal Artists). He has a great understanding of the world of Aboriginal art both in terms of its production and the marketing of the art.
Birrinbirrin played The Honey Man in the film Ten Canoes. His artworks can also be seen on the Twelve Canoes website (www.twelvecanoes.com).
2002, Dada: Cleansing Ceremony, to open: The Native Born: Contemporary Aboriginal Art from Ramingining, Australia, Asia Society Museum, New York, USA.
2003, Site Specific Wall Painting to accompany: The Native Born: Contemporary Aboriginal Art from Ramingining, Australia, Museum of Contemporary Art (MOCA) Taipei, Taiwan
2003, Sand Sculpture to accompany: Spirit Country, Contemporary Australian Aboriginal Art. Hillside Forum Plaza, outside the Hillside Gallery,Tokyo
2004, Sand Sculpture to accompany: No Ordinary Place: The Art of David Malangi, National Gallery of Australia.
Select Group Exhibitions:
1984, Objects & Representations from Ramingining, Power Institute [now MCA], Sydney
1991, Ramingining, Roslyn Oxley9 Gallery, Sydney
2000, Yolngu Science: Objects and Representations from Ramingining, MCA, Sydney
2001, The Native Born: Objects and Representations from Ramingining, Sprengel Museum, Hannover
2002, Ramingining, Arte aborigen australiano de la Tierra de Arnhem, Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofia, Madrid
2002, The Native Born: Objects and Representations from Ramingining, Palacio de Velazquez, Parque del Retiro, Madrid
2003, Bula’bula Arts at the Virginia Fringe Film Festival, Virginia, USA
2003, The Native Born: Contemporary Aboriginal Art from Ramingining, Australia, Asia Society Museum, New York, USA
2003, The Native Born: Contemporary Aboriginal Art from Ramingining, Australia, Museum of Contemporary Art (MOCA) Taipei, Taiwan
2004, Dupun, Djalumbu, Badurru-Hollow Logs from Ramingining, Gallery Gabrielle Pizzi, Melbourne
2004, A Body of Art, Raft Artspace, Darwin
2005, From Our Place to Yours, Hill-Smith Fine Art Gallery, Adelaide
2005, Rarrk on Bark, Ballarat Fine Art Gallery, Ballarat, Victoria
2005, Emergence: Happening Artists from Ramingining, William Mora Galleries, Melbourne
2005, Second Peter Bailie Acquisitive Art Award, Flinders University Art Museum, Adelaide, SA
2005, Malangi Mob: Our Father's Stories, Raft Artspace, Darwin
2006, 13 Canoes, (an Adelaide Fringe event), South Australian Museum, Adelaide
2006, Malangi Mob (2),Indigenart, Perth
2006, L’Espirit de la Terre d’Arnhem Art Aborigene du Nord de L’Australie: La Collection d’Arnaud Serval, Passage de Retz, Paris
2007, Bula'bula Arts: The Next Generation, Australia Dreaming Art, Melbourne
Ballarat Fine Art Gallery, Ballarat, Victoria
Museum of Contemporary Art, Ramingining Collection, Sydney.
University of Queensland, Anthropology Museum, St Lucia.
Jenkins, Susan (ed.), 2004, No Ordinary Place: The Art of David Malangi, National Gallery of Australia.
Mundine, Djon, 2001, The Native Born: Objects and Representations from Ramingining, Arnhem Land, MCA & Bula’bula Arts
Scott, Belinda, Spiritual Sand Man, Australian Art Review, Nov - Feb 2005 pp 34 -36
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