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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.

Jimmy Wululu, 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)

Jimmy Wululu (1936-2005) was a Gupapuyngu (Yolngu) painter and sculptor. He grew up at Milingimbi Methodist Mission and worked as a labourer and builder, continuing to build and tend stock after he started to paint professionally in the late 1970s. The influence of his building training can be seen in his works, which are distinctively symmetrical and straight-lined. The major painter for his Gupapuyngu language group from the early 1980s, he painted fifteen log coffins for the Aboriginal Memorial. His work was shown in the Dreamings exhibition in the USA in 1988 and the Magiciens de la Terre show in Paris in 1989; he was also represented in The Continuing Tradition (1989), Paintings and Sculptures from Ramingining: Jimmy Wululu and Philip Gudthaykudthay at the Drill Hall Gallery (1992), Aratjara (1993-4) and Tyerabarrbowaryaou 2, I shall never become a whiteman at the MCA, Sydney (1994). His Bonggu Waterhole installation was shown at the Biennale of Sydney in 1998. Wululu often painted with David Malangi.

Martin van der Wal travelled from Townsville to Broome on his own initiative in 1986, photographing many Aboriginal artists who established major reputations in the ensuing years.

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

Accession number: 2005.61.12

Currently not on display

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Artist and subject

Martin van der Wal (age 33 in 1986)

Jimmy Wululu (age 50 in 1986)

Subject professions

Visual arts and crafts

Related information

The Companion

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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.

Wainburranga (Paddy Fordham), 1986 Martin van der Wal
Wainburranga (Paddy Fordham), 1986 Martin van der Wal
Wainburranga (Paddy Fordham), 1986 Martin van der Wal
Wainburranga (Paddy Fordham), 1986 Martin van der Wal

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.