Samuel Namunjdja Biography

Samuel Namunjdja was born in West Central Arnhem Land in 1965. He is part of the Kuninjku language group and belongs to the Yirridjdja moiety. A member of an artistic family, Samuel was taught to paint the stories of his clan by his father, Peter Marralwanga, himself a distinguished painter.

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A common theme of Samuel Namunjdja’s work is the gungurra or wind dreaming. These paintings depict not only the spiralling winds and cyclones common in Arnhem Land, but also refer to Bilwoyinj, a site near Samuel’s clan estate. Other favourite subjects are the mimi spirit figures, Ngalyod rainbow serpent and the Namarrkon lightning man. Like many younger artists, Namunjdja paints not only these traditional stories, but also looks to less sacred surroundings and everyday activities such as fishing for yabbies, and other animals and plants.

Samuel has participated in more than 30 important group exhibitions as far afield as Slovenia, Japan, France, UK and USA since 1988. Still in his 20s, Namunjdja won the Rothmans Foundation Award for Best Painting in a Traditional Media at the National Aboriginal Art Award in 1993. He followed up a high commendation in 2003 by winning the Telstra Bark Painting Award at the National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Art Award in 2006.

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