Recent works by senior and emerging artists from Yirrkala in 'Sunrise People' at Bundanon
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Recent works by senior and emerging artists from Yirrkala in 'Sunrise People' at Bundanon
Gaypalani Wanambi, Ḏawurr, 2022. Etched found metal. Courtesy of Michael Reid Sydney.

SHOALHAVEN, NSW.- Bundanon's new exhibition season, Miwatj Yolŋu - Sunrise People, opened to the public on 28 October 2023, and will continue to 11 February 2024 in the Art Museum.

Miwatj Yolŋu - Sunrise People presents the work of 13 senior and emerging Yolŋu artists from across the Yirrkala Community in East Arnhem Land, exploring interwoven stories of land, water, and sky.

Exhibiting artists include Noŋgirrŋa Marawili, Dhambit Munuŋgurr, Gaypalani Waṉambi, Mulkuṉ Wirrpanda, Muluymuluy Wirrpanda, Djirrirra Wunuŋmurra, Djakaŋu Yunupiŋu, Nyapanyapa Yunupiŋu, Wanapati Yunupiŋu, and artists from The Mulka Project including, Ruby Djikarra Alderton, Ishmael Marika, Patrina Munuŋgurr and Gutiŋarra Yunupingu.

Similar to Bundanon’s location in the Shoalhaven region, Yirrkala is a place where fresh and saltwater meet. This new exhibition explores storytelling, ecology and materiality in the works of Yolŋu artists, and brings to light the centrality of weather patterns and ecological systems within Yolŋu culture.

Miwatj Yolŋu translates to 'sunrise people' in Yolŋu Matha (Yolŋu tongue). Geographically, Miwatj refers to the furthest north-eastern part of Arnhem Land that receives the morning sun, as it rises in the east. Yolŋu artists enact cultural traditions through the expression of both sacred and secular narratives. The use of materials from local lands is an important part of this practice, encompassing natural ochres, ṉuwayak (bark painting) and larrikitj (memorial poles).

Some of the artists in this exhibition have pioneered the use of reclaimed materials, such as Gaypalani Wanambi, one of the few younger Yolŋu women working with discarded and scrap metals from nearby bauxite mining sites, as well as senior Yolŋu artist Noŋgirrŋa Marawili’s repurposed dance boards and signature magenta hue salvaged from discarded printer cartridges.

Dhambit Munuŋgurr presents paintings in her iconic vivid palette of cobalt blue capturing secular narratives relating to family, while Djakaŋu Yunupiŋu, daughter of the legendary leader Mungurrawuy Yunupiŋu, is presenting a recent body of work depicting an interpretation of a sacred story relating to the constellation known as the Seven Sisters.

Artists from The Mulka Project employ audio-visual technology in the documentation of ceremony, cultural history and the creation of new media artworks, including Gutiŋarra Yunupingu who has become one of The Mulka Project’s leading cinematographers.

Miwatj Yolŋu - Sunrise People brings together works from the Buku-Larrnggay Mulka Centre, the Mulka Project digital archive, and public and private collections from across Australia.

Rachel Kent, CEO said: “We are delighted to exhibit these significant works by Yolŋu artists from the Yirrkala Community. For Bundanon, this upcoming exhibition season fosters new relationships with outstanding artists and organisations from across the country. The works in Miwatj Yolŋu highlight Bundanon’s ongoing commitment to promote creativity, research and connections to living culture.”

Bundanon welcomed members from the Yirrkala community for the official season launch of Miwatj Yolŋu - Sunrise People in November where they celebrated with an afternoon of ceremony, song and storytelling for the public to attend.

A public program of readings from the acclaimed Yolŋu women’s publication Song Spirals, family friendly workshops and performances runs alongside the exhibition season.


Established in 1993, Bundanon was gifted to the Australian people by Arthur and Yvonne Boyd, representing one of the most significant acts of philanthropy in the history of the arts in Australia. Bundanon is located on 1,000 hectares of bush and parkland overlooking the Shoalhaven River, on the South Coast of New South Wales, two and a half hours from Sydney.

Bundanon’s mission is to operate the property as a centre for creative arts and education, for scientific research and a place to explore landscape and engage with First Nations history and culture. Bundanon’s residency program for visual artists, writers, musicians, dancers, performers and scholars, and its learning programs, are an investment in Australia’s future. Bundanon is supported by the Australian Government through the Department of Infrastructure, Transport, Regional Development and Communications’ Office for the Arts, Create NSW, the University of Wollongong, Landcare Australia, and a range of other foundation, bequest, and philanthropic contributions. The Collection features some 1,448 works by Arthur Boyd together with Boyd’s contemporaries such as Sidney Nolan, John Perceval, Joy Hester and Charles Blackman. In addition, Bundanon has an archive of artist books, scripts, compositions and working models related to artwork developed on the properties through the Artist in Residence program.

Bundanon’s Artist in Residence program is the largest program of its kind in Australia and spans a 30-year history. In 2023, over 150 multi-disciplinary artists and researchers will be in residence at Bundanon. Bundanon’s residency program is for visual and performing arts, literature, science, dance and music. It provides important career opportunities for artists and researchers to develop their work in an inspiring environment. Artists and researchers are hosted in purpose-built studios and rehearsal spaces on the organisation’s secluded Homestead Site.

Miwatj Yolŋu - Sunrise People
October 28th, 2023 - February 11th, 2024

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