Skip to main content

Timed ticketing is in place to safely manage visits to the Gallery, so please book ahead.

Menu

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.

John Bulunbulun, 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)

John Bulunbulun (1946-2010), Ganalbingu (Yolgnu) painter and printmaker, healer and ceremonial singer, grew up on the island of Milingimbi and in Bulman in southern Arnhem Land. He began to paint in the early 1970s, when he also began his career as an arts adviser. At the end of the 1970s he went with his wife to establish an outstation at Gamardi, where he painted with Jack Wunuwun. During this time Bulunbulun received several grants and a fellowship from the Aboriginal Arts Board and was on the Advisory Committee for the arts at the Australian Institute of Aboriginal Studies. He was one of the first indigenous artists to make limited-edition prints, and one of the first to make lithographs. A lawsuit he brought against a garment-making firm in 1989 led to the establishment of copyright protection for Aboriginal artworks. Having gained a professional fellowship from the Australia Council in 1991, in 1994 he travelled to Sulawesi with a group of Yolngu performers to enact a ceremony that re-established relations between the Galanbingu and the Makasar people. Bulunbulunn’s work, characterised by fine, shimmery crosshatching and often featuring his spiritual animal, the guwaynang or long-necked freshwater turtle, is held by all major Australian galleries and has been widely exhibited nationally and internationally.

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

Accession number: 2005.61.2

Currently not on display

Copyright image request form
Request a digital copy of an image for publication

Artist and subject

Martin van der Wal (age 33 in 1986)

John Bulunbulun (age 40 in 1986)

Subject professions

Visual arts and crafts

Related information

The Companion

Permanent collection catalogue

Café and shop

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.

The National Portrait Gallery
The National Portrait Gallery
The National Portrait Gallery

The Gallery

Explore portraiture and come face to face with Australian identity, history, culture, creativity and diversity.

Plan your visit

Timed ticketing, location, accessibility and amenities

We would like to thank our partners.
© National Portrait Gallery 2020
King Edward Terrace, Parkes
Canberra, ACT 2600, Australia

Phone +61 2 6102 7000
Fax +61 2 6102 7001
ABN: 54 74 277 1196

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.