Jimmy Wululu

Australian Aboriginal Artist


Jimmy Wululu

Born:                 1936		
Community Centre:     Ramingining				
Outstation/ Country:  Djiliwirri		
Region:               Central Arnhem Land 			
Local Group:          Daygurrgurr		
Social Affiliations:  Yirritja Moiety, Bulany 	
Language:             Gupapuyngu

Artists totems are Niwuda (honey), Djalambu (hollow log), Eel Tailed Catfish. The distinctive herringbone pattern used in many of Wululu's works represents the bones of the Eel Tailed Catfish.

1989, Rothmans Foundation Award [Best painting in a traditional media], National Aboriginal Art Award, Northern Territory Museum of Arts and Sciences, Darwin.
1992 received a grant from the Aboriginal Arts Unit of the Australia Council for the Arts.

Aboriginal Art Museum, The Netherlands.
Artbank, Sydney.
Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney.
Art Gallery and Museum, Kelvingrove, Glasgow.
Art Gallery of South Australia, Adelaide.
Berndt Museum of Anthropology, University of Western Australia. Linden Museum, Stuttgart, Germany.
Milingimbi Collection, MECA, Milingimbi Educational and Cultural Association.
Museum and Art Gallery of the Northern Territory, Darwin.
Museum of Contemporary Art, Ramingining Collection, Sydney.
National Gallery of Australia, Canberra.
National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne.
South Australian Museum, Adelaide.
The Holmes a Court Collection, Perth.
The John Kluge Collection, USA
The Holmes a Court Collection, Perth.


Individual Exhibitions:
1987, The Esplanade Gallery, Darwin.

Group Exhibitions:
2011 - Bark Paintings 1930-2000 - And New Works from Bula Bula, featuring Baluka Maymuru , Banguli , Barrngandi , Bomandi , Darringguwuy , David Gurrumirringu Malangi , Dick Barinbungung , Djawida Nadjongarle , Djawida Nadjongorle , Elizabeth Nyuguwana , George Ganyjibala , George Liwukang Bukulatjpi , George Milpurrurru , Jack Madagarlgarl , Jacky Atjarral , James Gaykamangu , James Iyuna , Jimmy and Elisabeth Wululu , Jimmy Moduk , Jimmy Njiminjuma , Jimmy Wululu , John Gurruwiwi Mandjuwi , Les Mirrikkurriya , Lily Karadada , Linda Namiyal Bopirri , Lofty Nabardayai Nadjamerrek , Mickey Ganambarr Daypurryun, Nabamdlule, Narrawu Wanambi, Paddy Compass Namatbara, Peter Marralwanga, Philip Gadthaykudthay , Philip Gudthaykudthay , Robyn Djunginy, Roy Burnyila, Thompson Yulidjirri, Tom Djimpurrpurr , Tom Djumburpur, Trudy Miltjuntjun , Wally Lipuwanga , Wally Mandarrk , William Wilanydjangu at Coo-ee Aboriginal Art Gallery, Sydney.
2005 - Yaku Yindi: Big names from Ramingining NT, Hogarth Galleries, Sydney.
2004 - EXPLAINED, A closer look at Aboriginal art, Aboriginal Art Museum, Utrecht, The Netherlands.
1995 - Stories, Eine Reise zu den grossen Dingen, touring, Sprengel Museum Hannover, Museum fur Volkerkunde Leipzig, Haus der Kulteren der Welt Berlin, Ludwig-Forum fur Internationale Kunst Aachen;
The Twelfth National Aboriginal Art Award, Museum and Art Gallery of the Northern Territory, Darwin.
1994 - Tyerabarrbowaryaou 2, I shall never become a whiteman, 5th Havana Biennial, Cuba, & Museum of Contemporary Art, Sydney; Gemaltes Land: Kunst der Aborigines aus Arnhemland, Linden Museum, Stuttgart
1993/4 - ARATJARA, Art of the First Australians, Touring: Kunstammlung Nordrhein-Westfalen, Dusseldorf; Hayward Gallery, London; Louisiana Museum, Humlebaek, Denmark
1993 - Dimensions: Jimmy Wululu/Phillip Gudthaykudthay, Freemantle Arts Centre, Fremantle
1992 - Collector, Collector Magazine, Le Trianon, Paris; Ramingining Artists, Gold Coast City Art Centre, Queensland; Paintings and Sculptures from Ramingining, Jimmy Wululu & Phillip Gudthaykudthay, Drill Hall Gallery, ANU, Canberra; The Ninth National Aboriginal Art Award Exhibition, Museum and Art Gallery of the Northern Territory, Darwin.
1991 - Flash Pictures, National Gallery of Australia; Canvas and Bark, South Australian Museum, Adelaide.
1990 - l'ete Australien a' Montpellier, Musee Fabre Gallery, Montpellier, France; Tagari Lia: My Family, Contemporary Aboriginal Art 1990 - from Australia, Third Eye Centre, Glasgow, UK
1989 - Magiciens de la Terre, Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris; Aboriginal Art: The Continuing Tradition, National Gallery of Australia, Canberra; The Sixth National Aboriginal Art Award Exhibition, Museum and Art Gallery of the Northern Territory, Darwin
1988 - Dreamings, the art of Aboriginal Australia, The Asia Society Galleries, New York. The Inspired Dream, Museum and Art Gallery of the Northern Territory, Darwin, and touring internationally.
1986 - Ramingining Art Exhibition, Araluen Arts Centre, Alice Springs, NT; The Third National Aboriginal Art Award Exhibition, Museum and Art Gallery of the Northern Territory, Darwinbr>1984 - Objects & Representations from Ramingining, Power Institute [now MCA], Sydney
1974 - Australian Aboriginal Art from the Louis A. Allen Collection, M. H. de Young Memorial Museum, California Palace of the Legion of Honor
1972 - Australian Aboriginal Art, Field Museum of Natural History, Chicago
1969 - Australian Aboriginal Art - The Louis A. Allen Collection, R. H. Lowie Museum of Anthropology, University of California, Berkeley

Select Bibliography:
Aboriginal Arts Management Association, 1990, Contemporary Aboriginal Art 1990 - from Australia (presented by the Aboriginal Arts Committee, Australia Council and Third Eye Centre, Glasgow), exhib. cat., Redfern, New South Wales. (C)
Allen, L., 1975, Time Before Morning: Art and Myth of the Australian Aborigines, Thomas Crowell Company, New York.
Aratjara, Art of the First Australians: Traditional and Contemporary Works by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Artists, exhib. cat. (conceived and designed by Bernard Luthi in collaboration with Gary Lee), Dumont, Buchverlag, Koln, 1993
Brody, A., Krempel, U., Bahr, E., (eds.), 1995, Stories, Eine Reise zu den grossen Dingen, exhib. cat., Landeshauptstadt Hannover Der Oberstadtdirektor Sprengel Museum Hannover and Autoren.
Caruana, W., 1987, Australian Aboriginal Art, a Souvenir Book of Aboriginal Art in the Australian National Gallery, Australian National Gallery, Parkes, Australian Capital Territory. (C)
Caruana, W. (ed.), 1989, Windows on the Dreaming, Ellsyd Press, Sydney. (C)
Caruana, W., 1993, Aboriginal Art, Thames and Hudson, London. (C)
Chanin, E., 1990, (ed.), Contemporary Australian Painting, Craftsman House, Roseville, NSW, Australia Cochrane Simons, Susan, 'Virtuoso flashes of inspiration', Sydney Morning Herald, 25 January 1992, p. 46
Crossman, S. and Barou, J-P. (eds), 1990, L'ete Australien a Montpellier: 100 Chefs d'Oevre de la Peinture Australienne, Musee Fabre, Montpellier, France.
Groger-Wurm, H., 1973, Australian Aboriginal Paintings and their Mythological Interpretation, Australian Institute of Aboriginal Studies, Canberra.
Isaacs, J., 1989, Australian Aboriginal Paintings, Weldon Publishing, New South Wales.
Martin, J-H, 1989, Magiciens de la Terre, Musee national d'art moderne, Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris.
Sutton, P. (ed.), 1988, Dreamings: the Art of Aboriginal Australia, Viking, Ringwood, Victoria.
Tyerabarrbowaryaou 2 I Shall Never Become a Whiteman, exhib. cat., Museum of Contemporary Art, Sydney, 1994
Wallace, D., Desmond, M., Caruana, W., 1991, Flash Pictures, exhib. cat., National Gallery of Australia, Canberra.
West, M.K.C., (ed.), 1988, The Inspired Dream, Life as art in Aboriginal Australia, exhib. cat., Queensland Art Gallery, Brisbane.
� Discovery Media, Documentation Pty Ltd, and the Australian
Institute of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies


Aboriginal artist Jimmy Wululu was born around 1936 at Mangbirri, a coastal settlement in Central Arnhem Land. His country is Djiliwirri, and his artist totems are Niwuda (honey), Djalumbu (hollow log), and Eel-Tailed Catfish. The distinctive herring bone pattern used in many of Wululu's work represents the bones of the Eel-Tailed Catfish. The design is also painted on people and objects for ceremonies, as well as on common objects such as dilly bags and spear throwers to make them more powerful.

Jimmy Wululu went to school at the mission on Milingimbi, one of the Crocodile Islands in the Arafura Sea just offshore from the Arnhem Land coast. He belonged to the second generation to grow up on the mission, yet most, including Wululu, still went through an intense Aboriginal education independent of their exposure to Christianity and European ways. Many of his extended family moved from their spiritual homeland, Djiliwrri, to live more permanently at the mission.

After the Second World War and before his Djapi (first initiation) Wululu and some friends walked over 600 kilometers west across Arnhem Land to Darwin, a journey undertaken by many of their generation, and one of the key events of his life. In Darwin Wululu lived and worked with white Australia by day and was involved in complex traditional ceremonial life at night.

In the late 1950's, back in Milingimbi, Wululu began work in the building industry, including work in an innovative scheme using ant-beds to make mud-brick houses. Wululu's paintings are in the classic Arnhem land tradition, with its use of ochres and sheets of bark, and intricate cross-hatching over the image. Wululu's experience in the building trade, however, led to his practice, rare in Aboriginal artists, of making preliminary drawings, drafting his images in pencil.

His earliest paintings from the 1970's were naturalistic images of turtles and other animals. His later works moved directly into minimalist body designs abstracted from nature, a development related to his increased involvement in ceremonial life and the sophisticated visual forms to which his more senior ritual status exposed him.

Wululu worked as both a painter and builder in the 1960's and 1970's, then took up fishing, taking out a commercial fishing license. He was also one of the artists to contribute several bone coffins, made from painted hollow logs, to the 'Aboriginal Memorial' installation, made up of 200 burial poles symbolising 200 years of white occupation of Australia, which was part of the 1998 Biennale of Sydney. This exhibition has since toured Europe including the Hermitage Museum in St Petersburg and is on permanent display at the National Gallery of Australia in Canberra.

In 1989 Wululu travelled to New York to attend the opening of the major exhibition 'Dreamings' and participate in related symposiums. In 1989 Wululu won the Rothman's Foundation Award for the best painting in traditional media at the Sixth national Aboriginal Art Award in Darwin. In 1992, he was the recipient of an Artist Grant from the Aboriginal Art Unit of the Australia Council. In November 1992 Wululu laid out a traditional sand sculpture as part of a joint exhibition with Phillip Gudthaykudthay at the Canberra School of Art.

In 1996 he also made another sand sculpture in the forecourt of the Northern Territory's Legislative Assembly building for the Bougainvillea festival in Darwin. In 1997 Jimmy Wululu was also one of the artists who participated in a series of workshops held in Ramingining, by printmaker Theo Tremblay, during which they produced an important series of prints, "The Ramingining Print Suite', based on the Wagilag Sisters' creation story. This workshop represents an unique collaboration by celebrated artists.