Namiyal Bopirri

Aboriginal artist, Namiyal Bopirri was born in 1929 at Djilinginimir in north-eastern Arnhem Land. She is of the Galwanuk-Liyagalawumirr people and was brought up in the Yolngu (traditional Aboriginal) ways.

Namiyal learned weaving from her mother and is now recognised as one of the finest weavers of Ramingining, known for her definite, firm style and use of strong colours and shapely form.

She began painting in the late 1980’s when her late husband, Tony Djikululu, taught her bark painting. She often collaborated with her husband on bark paintings intended for the public domain. While the collaboration of artists in particular, ritual relationships and belonging to opposite moieties is a common feature of the production of art in ritual circumstances, it is rare for a husband and wife to work together.

Many of Namiyal’s images come from the Wagilag Sisters creation story, one of the most important creation myths of this region: her itchy caterpillars, bush foods and snakes are all elements of this story. Her country, Guruwana, is often painted in the minimalist sacred rocks design. Other favourite subjects include Wayanaka, oyster beds, which are features of her rocky salt-water country east of Ramingining on the mainland side of Huchinson Strait.

Most of Namiyals works are painted on bark, however during the dry months, when bark collection is impossible, Namiyal will rummage for plyboard off-cuts from buildings and use these to paint on.

From 1990 she began showing in major exhibitions in Sydney, Melbourne and Canberra. Her works have been purchased by the Australian National Gallery, Canberra and the Art Gallery of South Australia, Adelaide and she is also represented in the John Kluge Collection, an important collection of Aboriginal art at the University of Virginia in Charlottsville, USA.
Subject & Themes
Wagilag Sisters creation story, itchy caterpillar, animals, artists country Guruwana, Wayanaka (oyster and oyster beds), sacred rocks, fish trap story.
Art Gallery of South Australia, Adelaide.
Gold Coast City Art Gallery, Surfers Paradise, Queensland.
Queensland Art Gallery, Brisbane.
Kluge Ruhe Collection, Charlottesville, Virginia USA.
Linden Museum, Stuttgart, Germany.
Museum of Contemporary Art, Ramingining Collection, Sydney.
National Gallery of Australia, Canberra.
National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne.
National Maritime Museum, Darling Harbour, Sydney.
University of Sydney Students Union, Sydney.
Individual Exhibitions
1993 Namiyal Bopirri, Australian Girls Own Gallery, Australian Girls Own Gallery, Kingston, Canberra, ACT.
Group Exhibitions
1984 Buyu-Ramingining Weaving, Crafts Council, NT.
1989 Ramingining, Gamununggu Miyalk, women painters, Araluen Arts Centre, Alice Springs.
1991 Aboriginal Women’s Exhibition, Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney.
1993 Yananda New Moon, Ivan Doherty Gallery, Sydney.
1993 Namiyal Bopirri, Naminapu White, Australian Girls Own Gallery, Canberra, ACT.
1994 Buyu Djama, Pandanus Weaving from Arnhem Land, Adelaide Fringe Festival, National Trust of South Australia.
1994 Canvassing, 24 Hour Art, Darwin, NT.
1994 Australian Heritage Commission National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Art Award Exhibition, Old Parliament House, Canberra.
1994 Ramingining Weaving, Christine Abrahams Gallery, Richmond, Victoria.
1994 Power of the Land, Masterpieces of Aboriginal Art, National Gallery of Victoria.
1996 Abstraction: Signs, Marks & Symbols National Gallery of Vic. Melbourne.
1997 Wawilag Sisters Story, Australian National Gallery, Canberra.
1997 Ramingining Print Suite.
2000 Yolngu Science MCA Sydney.
Art from the Land: Dialogues with the Kluge-Ruhe Collection of Australian Art University of Virginia USA 1999.
Bulabula Arts, 1993, Namiyal Bopirri, exhib. cat. for solo AGOG exhibition.
The Native Born: Objects and Representations from Ramingining Arnhem Land ed. by Bernice Murphy MCA in association with Bula Bula Arts, Ramingining 2000.
Caruana C & Lendon N, Painters of the Wawilag Sisters Story 1937-77 National Gallery of Australia, Canberra.
Hanby, L., 1993, ‘Buyu Djama,’ Periphery 17, 22-23. (C)
1991, Aboriginal Women’s Exhibition, exhib. cat., Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney.
1994, Buyu Djama, Pandanus Weaving from Arnhem Land, exhib. cat. (reprint), Adelaide.

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