Phillip Gudthaygudthay (also known as Pussycat) was born into the Liyagalawumirri people in Central Arnhem land and was initiated at Gatji in about 1949. After the death of his parents the artist was adopted by a Murrungun family and his style of painting owes a lot to his stepbrother Mirrija who died in 1988.
Phillip begun painting in the early 1970’s. His subject matter and totems include parts of the Wagilag Sisters story, an important Aboriginal creation myth; the native cat from which he gets his nickname; a stylised water plant; and an abstract gridded landscape (minydji) depicting Gunyunmirringa, the setting for the story of the creation of the Milky Way. This abstract design signifies the landscape where the Widitj, the olive python, ate the two Wagilag sisters. Liyagalawumirr are the only clan group that owns this particular minydji and hence are the only group that can use and apply this design in initiation and other important ceremonies.
Since 1979 Phillip’s art has been exhibited in numerous group shows around Australia and he has also had several solo exhibitions in Sydney. He is considered the first bark painter to have had his work recognised as contemporary abstract art.
His work is characterised by the thinness of the paint and his use of silvery white clay and brilliant yellow ochre.
Phillip was also one of the artists who participated in a series of workshops held in Ramingining in 1997, by printmaker Theo Tremblay, during which they produced a series of prints, ‘The Ramingining Suite’, based on the Wagilag Sisters’ creation story. This workshop represents an unique collaboration by celebrated Aboriginal artists.
Subject & Themes
Personal totems are native cat, hollow log, olive python, water goanna. Minydji -landscape of his country at Mirarrmina / gunyanmirringur, where the original Badurru (hollow log) ceremony was performed, Wagilag Sisters Creation Story, Witditj -python, the setting of the story of the creation of the Milky Way in the Sky and a stylised water plant.
Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney.
Art Gallery of South Australia, Adelaide.
Flinders University Art Museum, Adelaide.
Kluge Ruhe Collection USA.
Linden Museum, Stuttgart, Germany.
Milingimbi Collection, MECA, Milingimbi Educational and Cultural Association.
Museum and Art Gallery of the Northern Territory, Darwin.
Museum of Contemporary Art, Ramingining Collection, Sydney.
Myer Gatner Collection USA.
National Gallery of Australia, Canberra.
National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne.
Oodgeroo Collection, Qld. University of Technology.
Parliament House Art Collection, Canberra.
Sydney University, Sydney.
University of Queensland.
Anthropology Museum, St Lucia.
1983 Garry Anderson Gallery, Sydney.
1991 Roslyn Oxley9 Gallery, Sydney.
1995 Aboriginal & South Pacific Gallery, Surry Hills, Sydney.
1979 Traditions and Innovations, Legislative Assembly, Darwin.
1984 Objects & Representations from Ramingining, Power Institute [now MCA], Sydney.
1989 Aboriginal Art: The Continuing Tradition, National Gallery of Australia, Canberra.
1989 Masterpiece Fine Art Gallery, Hobart.
1990 Ramingining Art, Birukmarri Gallery, Fremantle.
1991 The Eighth National Aboriginal Art Award Exhibition, Museum and Art Gallery of the Northern Territory, Darwin.
1992/3 New Tracks Old Land: An Exhibition of Contemporary Prints from Aboriginal Australia, touring USA and Australia.
1993 Dimensions: Jimmy Wululu/Phillip Gudthaykudthay, Freemantle Arts Centre, Fremantle.
1993 The Tenth National Aboriginal Art Award Exhibition, Museum and Art Gallery of the Northern Territory, Darwin.
1993 Prints by Ramingining Artists, Hogarth Galleries, Sydney, NSW.
1993/4 ARATJARA, Art of the First Australians, Touring: Kunstammlung Nordrhein-Westfalen, Dusseldorf; Hayward Gallery, London; Louisiana Museum, Humlebaek, Denmark.
1994 Canvassing, 24 Hour Art, Darwin, NT.
1994 Maningrida Collection, Museum of Contemporary Art, Sydney.
1994 Power of the Land, Masterpieces of Aboriginal Art, National Gallery of Victoria.
1994 Yiribana, Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney.
1994 Art of the Rainbow Snake, National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne.
1995 The Twelfth National Aboriginal Art Award, Museum and Art Gallery of the Northern Territory, Darwin.
1996 Abstraction: Signs, Marks & Symbols National Gallery of Vic. Melbourne.
1997 Ramingining Print Suite.
1997 The Painters of the Wagilag Sisters Story 1937-97 National Gallery of Australia, Canberra.
1997 14th NATSI Art Award, Museum & Art Galleries of NT, Darwin.
1999 16th NATSI Art Award, Museum & Art Galleries of NT, Darwin.
2000 Yolngu Science MCA Sydney.
Art from the Land: Dialogues with the Kluge-Ruhe Collection of Australian Art University of Virginia USA 1999.
Caruana, W., 1987, Australian Aboriginal Art, a Souvenir Book of Aboriginal Art in the Australian National Gallery, Australian National Gallery, Parkes, Australian Capital Territory. (C)
The Native Born: Objects and Representations from Ramingining Arnhem Land ed. by Bernice Murphy MCA in association with Bula Bula Arts, Ramininging 2000.
Caruana, W. (ed.), 1989, Windows on the Dreaming, Ellsyd Press, Sydney. (C)
Caruana W & Lendon N.The Painters of the Wagilag Sisters Story 1937-97 National Gallery of Australia 1997.
Douglas, M. and Oldmeadow, D., 1972, Across the Top, Rigby Ltd, Adelaide. (C)
1993, Aratjara, Art of the First Australians: Traditional and Contemporary Works by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Artists, exhib. cat. (conceived and designed by Bernard Luthi in collaboration with Gary Lee), Dumont, Buchverlag, Koln. (C)
Isaacs J. Spirit Country: Contemporary Australian Aboriginal ArtHardie Grant Books. Fine Arts Museum of San Francisco 1999.
McCulloch S, Contemporary Aboriginal Art: a guide to the rebirth of an ancient culture Allen & Unwin 1999.
Neale, M., 1994, Yiribana, exhib. cat., Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney. (C)
Perkins H. ‘Beyond the Year of Indigenous Peoples’ in Art and Australia 1993 Vol. 31 No 1 p 98-101.
Tweedie, P., 1985, This My Country, A View of Arnhem Land, William Collins Pty Ltd, Sydney.