Galuma Maymuru
new barks and ceremonial poles


Bill Gregory Director Annandale Galleries Sydney June 2007

Galuma Maymuru is an artist who has painting in her blood. Aboriginal people in general are highly creative people when it comes to painting due to the constant exposure to body paint in ceremony from an early age. They grow up with it. Naturally, some have a more natural feel for the process of painting - a facility if you like. Others may lack this facility but still produce paintings of great beauty due to their positions in the ceremonial hierarchy and access as guardians of powerful stories and regardless of their "aesthetic" and compositional flair or lack of still produce powerful images. Now and again the two elements come together and we see an artist who has both the natural flair and love of painting as well as kinship relationships that provide important subject matter. Galuma Maymuru is one such artist. Her Father and teacher was the great Narritjin, a key painter on the great Yirrkala church panels. Her husband and sometime collaborator Dhukal Wirrpanda is one of NE Arnhemland's best artists, also represented in this important exhibition and her son-in-law Djambawa Marawili is a ceremonial elder of the highest order and a painter of great renown.

The painting in NE Arnhemland has matured to an extent in the last five years that would have seemed unthinkable at that time. Led by the example of Djambawa Marawili and Galuma Maymuru there is a renaissance going on of unprecedented proportions. The younger artists are painting more freely and with more emotive content than ever before. This is partly due to market forces, as the increased interest in this work has allowed many of them to become full or nearly full time artists with the logical outcome being more work of significant and ever changing stylistic innovation. A significant watershed in this development was the exhibition "Buwayak - Invisibility" at Annandale Galleries in 2003. In this exhibition Maymuru, Marawili and Wanyubi Marika produced paintings in a new, mature style that was breathtaking in its innovation and long lasting in its influence. The work of Galuma was a standout in that show and led the way towards further innovation on her part and an example to the younger artists.

A painting by Galuma Maymuru is instantly recognisable those familiar with the work from this area. The signature clusters of dots that cross with the rarrk she inherited from Narritjin. However, it is the extraordinary rhythm in the works that really set her apart. There is an organic flow to the work that reflects her vision of the land from which the stories derive. They are robust compositions which also betray a female sensibility which is perhaps less concerned with the law and more with communicating and sharing with us her own vision of the land, wind, sea and sky.

If she were a western artist we might compare her to Matisse in that she intuitively understands the arabesque, how to curve her line and rarrk to produce images which shimmer like the play of light on water while contrasting with definitive images and strong composition, rather like the way Matisse uses a ramrod straight back to set into relief the arabesque nature of his odalisques.


Galuma Maymuru
new barks and ceremonial poles
From Yirrkala NE Arnhemland
11 Jul - 18 Aug 2007

Exhibition features:

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Please note, works in previous exhibitions may no longer be available, please visit our stockroom for available works