Aboriginal Art

Arnhem Land

Gannon House Gallery has art work from many communities through out Arnhem land. All artwork from these areas is sourced directly from the communities described below.


The western Arnhem Land style is typified by the art of Oenpelli, in which x-ray paintings, forceful images of spirit ancestors and delicate paintings of the Mimi spirits predominate. These are painted very finely on a plain monochrome background. The earliest paintings collected this century were from the area now known as Oenpelli, and it is these figurative images of hunting animals and stick-like figures which have come to symbolise, for many, the very essence of all Aboriginal Art.

The term x-ray art was originally coined because many of the Oenpelli paintings of figures, animals, birds and fish, reveal the internal organs as well as the external features. Heart, lungs, intestinal canal and spinal column were often clearly shown. Numerous extraordinary beautiful ancient examples of the x-ray style of painting appear on rock faces throughout the area.

Paintings and carvings of Mimihs in the traditional Mimi art style depict them as thin spirit creatures in various positions which display their extreme agility and flexibility. The oldest cave paintings in Western Arnhem Land are of Mimi figures running and hunting, often wearing head dresses and carrying several weapons and utensils. These types of figures were given the term ‘dynamic’ by the Rock Art historian, George Chaloupka.


Lorrkkon (At the MCA)

Maningrida Arts and Culture, the local arts center that markets the work from the region, was established in the early 1970s. This was a volatile time. The official policy of assimilation was abandoned in favor of encouraging people to retain their traditional values and connections to their remote spirit country. An arts center was established at Maningrida and the federal government’s galleries in each State promoted the work of Maningrida artists, so that during this period it became the most highly regarded and exhibited community in Arnhem Land.


The Buku-Larrnggay Mulka Art Centre and Museum is in Yirrkala, a small Aboriginal community on the north-eastern tip of the Top End of the Northern Territory, approximately 700kms East of Darwin (Map). We service approximately twenty five homeland centres in the radius of 250km. This part of Australia is very special. The coastline and hinterland are largely unspoilt and still managed by the traditional owners, the Yolngu (Aboriginal people of the region between
Numbulwar and Maningrida). They have fought all attempts by Balanda (non-Aboriginal people) to dispossess them.
The sacred art of this region details the spiritual forces behind the creation and continuing identity of the fresh and saltwater country of the Miwatj region of north-eastern Arnhem land.

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