Gulumbu Yunupingu


Born: c. 1945
Moiety: Yirritja
Homeland: Biranybirany
Clan: Gumatj, Rrakpala
Region: East Arnhem Land



Gulumbu, the youngest sister of Galarrwuy (former Northern Land Council Chair and Australian of the Year) and Mandawuy Yunupi\u (lead singer of Yothu Yindi and former Australian of the Year), lived as a child at Yirrkala and went to school in the old Mission house. She married Yirrkala Church Panel artist Mutitjpuy Munu\gurr and had four children, including Milkay\u Munugurr, original yi[aki (didjeridu) player for the band Yothu Yindi. Her father is the senior Gumatj man Mungurrawuy, married to Makurr\u, who comes from the Gälpu clan. 

She is an artist who works in many different media including weaving pandanus mats and baskets, painting on barks and Yi[aki, collecting shells to make jewelry, strings for arm-bands and for head-bands. She also studied as a Health worker through Miwatj Health. She has great knowledge of bush medicine and plant uses. She was one of the four translators of the Bible into Gumatj over 26 years. She works closely with Galarrwuy Yunupi\u at the Garma Festival, working to educate non-indigenous people about Yol\u life. 

In 2000 her work was represented at World Expo in Hanover, Germany with an installation of many small barks depicting the seven sisters constellation.

She has also branched out into screen prints, having works featured in Darwin at the Northern Territory University gallery, Alcaston Gallery in Melbourne, and at the 2004 Garma Festival Gapan Gallery, where her print sold out in the first day. 

Following her First Prize in the Telstra Award 2004, her first solo show (a sell-out) at Alcaston Gallery and her invitation to be one of the eight indigenous artists to participate in the prestigious Quai de Brandi Project in Paris, her work has become highly sought after. Subsequent exhibitions through Alcaston have all sold out. Her work is always more in demand than supply will satisfy.

In 2006 she was named Deadly Visual Artist of the Year. In 2008 she was commissioned to provide a public artwork for the newly built Hedley Bull Centre for World Politics at ANU. She has established a Traditional Healing Centre in North East Arnhemland which runs healing workshops.

Her personal life has been marred by tragedy with her only son and a daughter dying in 2007 and another daughter wheelchair bound by an accident. But throughout these trials her open hearted compassion for others in distress has been her dominant trait. Whenever someone is in their last days it is common to see her comforting them to the end.



Material culture items



Gong-Wapitja-Women and art from Yirrkala Aboriginal studies Press-Gillian Hutchinson South Australian Art Gallery publication 2003
Culture Warriors - National Indigenous Art Triennial 2007 - Catalogue ISBN 9780642541338
Power and Beauty - Indigenous Art Now - ISBN 978 1 921330 03 2
2008 Ochre, Menzies Auction, Melbourne
2008 Etched in the Sun Prints made by Indigenous artists in collaboration with Basil Hall & Printers 1997-2007 ANU, Canberra
Collection Highlights, National Gallery of Australia, Edited by Ron Redford - 2008
Catalogue: 17th Biennale of Sydney - The Beauty of Distance, Songs of Survival, in a Precarious Age. ISBN 978 0 64652 794
ABC Television Series - Art and Soul, presented by Hetti Perkins, directed by Warwick Thornton, published in the companion to the series under the same title - 704-039915



Batchelor College Collection
Art Gallery of South Australia
Kerry Stokes Collection
Gove Airport
National Gallery of Australia
Queensland Art Gallery
National Gallery of Victoria
Government of China - gifted by the Government of the Northern Territory



2004 NATSIAA First Prize
Commissioned to contribute to the interior of the Quai de Brandi, Paris 2004-6
Finalist 2006 Tallis Foundation National Works on Paper
2008 Commissioned to install public sculptural work in the new Hedley Bull Centre for World Politics
2010 Featured artist Australian Pavilli on World Expo - Film shown by director Annie Venables ‘Sisters’ and 3 Larrakitj in the VIP room.
2010 Peoples Choice Award West Australian Indigenous Art Award