Dorothy Djukulul was one of the first recognized female painters in Ramingining, Central Arnhem Land. She was born in 1942 at Murwangi, near Mulgurrum Outstation, and went to school in Milingimbi. Djukulul was taught the art of painting from her father Dick Ngulmarmar and brothers George Milpurrurru and Charlie Djurritjni. Before painting seriously, Djukulul worked in the stockyard, mustering cattle on foot.
After moving to Ramingining, Dorothy Djukulul started to paint for the newly established Ramingining town and art center in the 1970’s. Djukulul soon developed a unique painting style of her own consisting of sacred designs and religious stories. She painted fine line work with dupan (Hollow Logs), serpents or her recognisable Warrnyu (flying fox), one of the first Ramingining women to paint her own story, moving away from her husband’s traditional patterns and totems. Prior to this Yolngu women were associated and categorized as weavers, opening the door for other Yolngu women to be recognized as painters.
It was not until her second exhibition entitled Dorothy Djukulul and Djardie Ashley held in 1986 at the Aboriginal Artists Gallery in Melbourne that her work was appreciated more widely. Robert Holmes a Court acquired ten pieces for his collection, cementing Djukulul as an established Yolngu female painter.
Djukulul contributed five Dupan (Hollow Logs) for the 1988 Aboriginal Memorial, an installation of 200 Dupun commemorating the deaths of indigenous people since white occupation. The installation was exhibited at the Biennial of Sydney- beneath the Southern Cross, before moving to the National Gallery of Australia as a permanent display.
Djukulul has experienced great success both nationally and internationally, with five individual exhibitions and over 30-group exhibitions, and work in numerous public and private collections. She also has three works on permanent display in the Art Gallery of NSW.
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