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The National Portrait Gallery acknowledges the Traditional Custodians of Country throughout Australia and recognises the continuing connection to lands, waters and communities. We pay our respect to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures and to Elders both past and present.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander viewers are warned that this website contains images of deceased persons.

Phillip Gudthaykudthay

1986
Martin van der Wal

inkjet print on rag paper (sheet: 42.0 cm x 29.7 cm, image: 25.3 cm x 25.3 cm)

Philip Gudthaykudthay (b. 1935), Liyagalawumirr (Yolngu) bark painter, worked as a young man as a stockman, fencer and crocodile hunter around Milingimbi and Ramingining. He started painting in the 1960s, taught by his half-brother Mirritja (Manbarra), selling his work through the Milingimbi mission. His paintings typically centre on his mother’s group’s imagery, particularly the tuber called munyigani, or on the landscape grid of his own country, from the stories of which he derives his nickname, ‘Pussycat’. He had his first solo exhibition at the Garry Anderson Gallery in Sydney in 1983; a few years later, he contributed several lorrkon to the National Gallery’s Aboriginal Memorial. In the 1990s he was included in a number of major group exhibitions including the international show Aratjara (1993-4), Power of the Land (1994) at the National Gallery of Victoria and The Painters of the Wagilag Sisters Story at the National Gallery of Australia in 1997. His work is held in most major Australian collections. Gudthaykudthay played the Sorcerer in the Rolf de Heer film Ten Canoes (2006), conceived by de Heer and David Gulpilil, which was filmed in traditional lands and featured descendants of hunters who were photographed by anthropologist Donald Thompson in the 1930s.

Collection: National Portrait Gallery
Purchased 2005
© Martin van der Wal

Artist and subject

Martin van der Wal (age 33 in 1986)

Phillip Gudthaykudthay (age 51 in 1986)

Subject professions

Visual arts and crafts

Related information

The Companion

Permanent collection catalogue

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On one level The Companion talks about the most famous and frontline Australians, but on another it tells us about ourselves: who we read, who we watch, who we listen to, who we cheer for, who we aspire to be, and who we'll never forget. The Companion is available to buy online and in the Portrait Gallery Store.

Big shots

Magazine article by Djon Mundine OAM, 2017

Djon Mundine OAM brings poignant memory and context to Martin van der Wal’s 1986 portrait photographs of storied Aboriginal artists.

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The National Portrait Gallery acknowledges the Traditional Custodians of Country throughout Australia and recognises the continuing connection to lands, waters and communities. We pay our respect to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures and to Elders both past and present.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander viewers are warned that this website contains images of deceased persons.

The National Portrait Gallery is an Australian Government Agency