Philip Gudthaykudthay was born in 1925 in the bush on the outskirts of Ramingining, Central Arnhem Land. He was the only child to father Lika and mother Ganinydja 1 of the Djardewitijibi Tribe. Gudthaykudthay inherited his mother’s country making him a Senior Custodian of Ramingining. Before painting, Gudthaykudthay worked as a Stockman, Fencer and Crocodile hunter selling crocodile skins to the Milingimbi Mission.
Gudthaykudthay learnt the skills of painting in the 1960’s, at the Nangalala Mission on the Glyde River, under the instruction of his half brother Mirritja. Gudthaykudthay soon developed an individual style consisting of abstract landscape designs, devoid of ethnographical details.
Gudthaykudthay first recorded exhibition, Traditions and Innovations, was held in 1979 at the Legislative Assembly in Darwin. However, it was not till 1983 that Gudthaykudthay had his first solo exhibition held at the Garry Anderson Gallery, Sydney. This exhibition consisted of bark paintings, featuring abstract landscape designs and clan patterns. The National Gallery of Australia acquired two of these bark paintings.
Gudthaykudthay created five Dupun (Hollow Logs) for the renowned 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.
Gudthaykudthay completed a printmaking course in 1990’s, at Charles Darwin University, focusing on lithography, lino cut and screen-printing. Gudthaykudthay has produced numerous successful prints, commonly with the stories of the Wagilag Sisters, Wititj (olive python) and the Native Cat – his personal totem.