Area: Western Arnhem Land. NT
Language Bloc: Bininj kunwok
Language: Eastern Kunwinjku
Local Group (clan): Kurulk clan
Social Affiliations: Duwa moiety, Balang sub
Subjects and Themes:
Ngalyod Rainbow Serpent, Dilebang sacred site rainbow serpents, Buluwana submerged
ancestor at Ngandarrayo, Mandjabu conical fish trap, Kunmadj dilly bag, Mimih
spirits, Assorted Macropods, Ngalkordo- brolga, Wayarra profane spirits.
2006 James and his wife Melba Gunjarrwanga were commissioned to create a public
art project for the Darwin Entertainment Centre
Art Gallery of Western Australia, Perth.
Museum of Contemporary Art, Maningrida Collection, Sydney.
National Gallery of Australia, Canberra.
National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne.
National Maritime Museum, Darling Harbour, Sydney.
Museum and Art Gallery of the Northern Territory, Darwin
Aboriginal Art Museum, The Netherlands.
Andreas-Avery Collection, Sydney.
Art Gallery of Western Australia, Perth.
2007 - James Iyuna and Melba Gunjarrwanga: recent carved Mimih spirits and
barks, Alcaston Gallery, Melbourne.
2005 - James Iyuna & Melba Gunjarrwanga, Alcaston Gallery, Melbourne.
2004 - James Iyuna and Melba Gunjarrwanga, Fine bark paintings and carbed
sculpture, Alcaston Gallery, Melbourne.
2011 - 28th Telstra National Aboriginal Art Award, Museum and Art Gallery of the NT
2011 - Bark Paintings 1930-2000 - And New Works from Bula Bula, at Coo-ee Aboriginal
Art Gallery, Sydney.
2011 - Maningrida 2011 - Where the Dreaming Changes Shape, at Gallery Gabrielle Pizzi,
2010 - Maningrida 2010, at the Maningrida Gallery, Darwin.
2009 - Spiral Wind at Annandale Galleries, Sydney
2009 - Ancestral Spirit Beings and Ceremonial Lorrkon, Gallery Gabrielle Pizzi, Melbourne.
2008 - Spirit in Variation II, Annandale Galleries, Sydney; James Iyuna and Melba
Gandjarrwanga - Paintings on bark, hollow logs and carved Mimih Spirits,
Alcaston Gallery, Melbourne.
2007 - Lorrkon, spirit beings and fibrework, Gallery Gabrielle Pizzi, Melbourne;
2007 - 24th National Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Art Award, Museum and Art
Gallery of the NT,
St-art European Art Fair, Arts d'Australie, Stephane Jacob, Strasbourg, France.
2006 - Milmilngkan: Innovations in Kurulk Bark Painting, Drill Hall Gallery, ANU,
2005 - 22nd National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Art Award, Museum and
Art Gallery of the NT,
Maningrida NT: Bark Paintings and Carvings, Hogarth Galleries, Sydney;
Rarrk! Flowing on from Crossing Country, Annandale Galleries, Sydney.
2004 - 21st National Aboriginal Art Award Exhibition, Museum and Art Gallery of
the NT, Darwin;
Bark Paintings, carvings and fibre works from Maningrida NT, Hogarth Galleries,
Crossing Country: The Alchemy of Western Desert Arnhem Land Art, Art Gallery
of New South Wales, Sydney.
2003 - Mythological beings from Maningrida, Hogarth Galleries, Sydney, NSW.
2001 - Exposition collective, Australie,Visages d'un continent, Arts d'Australie,
Stephane Jacob / Galerie Visages de l'Art, Marly-le-Roi.
1997 - Exposition collective, L'Art des Aborigenes d'Australie, Arts d'Australie o
Stephane Jacob / Galerie de Stassart, Bruxelles; Exposition collective,
L'Art des Aborigenes d'Australie, Arts d'Australie, Stephane Jacob / Espace
Paul Riquet, Beziers.
1995, Stories my Parents Sang, National Maritime Museum, Sydney.;
1995, Group show 24 Hour Art Darwin, Snakes and Serpents.
1994, Maningrida Collection, Museum of Contemporary Art, Sydney.
1991, The Eighth National Aboriginal Art Award Exhibition, Museum and Art Gallery
of the NT, Darwin;
1990, Painted Ship, Painted Oceans, S. H. Ervin Gallery, Sydney;
1990, Keepers of the Secrets, Aboriginal Art from Arnhemland, Art Gallery of Western
1990, Spirit in Land, Bark Paintings from Arnhem Land, National Gallery of Victoria.
1988, International Rock Art Conference [AURA] Darwin, NT.;
1988, The Fifth National Aboriginal Art Award Exhibition, Museum and Art Gallery of
the NT, Darwin;
1989 Group show at Deutcher Gallery.
Isaacs, J., 1984, Australia's Living Heritage, Arts of the Dreaming,
Lansdowne Press, Sydney. (C)
O'Ferrall, M., 1990, Keepers of the Secrets, Aboriginal Art Arnhemland
in the Collection of the Art Gallery of Western Australia, Art Gallery
of Western Australia, Perth. (C)
Ryan, J., 1990, Spirit in Land, exhib. cat., National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne.
Smee, S. 'Shows take snapshot of now', The Australian, 25 November 2005
This artist is one of four brothers living at Mumeka, a remote outstation situated beside
the mighty Mann River in the Stone Country which stretches in an almost unbroken line for
300 miles from Kakadu to Maningrida.
James and his three brothers had very little western education because of the difficulty
of getting to a school at either Oenpelli or Maningrida, the nearest townships in Arnhem
Land. Instead they spent most of their time learning the history and religion of the
Kunwinjku tribe as told to them by their uncle, the late famous bark painter Peter Maralwanga.
Their own father did not paint either on rock or on bark, and died when his four sons were
quite small. Maralwanga took them to his outstation about 20 miles away and taught them how
to paint in his inimitable style, which featured the complex pattern of rarrk or cross
hatching for which he was most famous, and included brilliant flashes of white, said to be
the fossilised droppings of the Rainbow Serpent. This clay comes from a hidden deposit at a
secret and sacred place to which no other artists have access.
All of the brothers, Iyuna, Mawundjal, Njiminjuma and Bandawunga achieved fame as traditional
painters of the mythology taught to them by their uncle. Iyuna's work is extremely hard to
acquire because of the constant demands of art galleries and private collectors. His paintings
hang in major galleries, and are featured in authentic art books.
James was born in 1959. He is married and has two sons. He continues to paint at his isolated
outstation, only leaving it to attend mortuary rites and secret and sacred ceremonies, for
some of which he is the ceremonial leader.