Alternative Spelling: Namirrki, Ivan Namanyilk, Ivan Namunjdja
Region: Central Arnhem Land
Community Centre: Maningrida
Outstation or Country: Marrkolidjban
Language Bloc: Bininj kunwok
Language: Eastern Kunwinjku
Local Group (clan): Kardbam clan
Social Affiliations: Yirridjdja moiety, Bulanj subsection
Medium/ Form: Bark painting, ochres on bark, Hollow Logs
Ivan is the eldest son of the late Peter Maralwanga, famous bark painter, whose works hang in major art galleries and museums. An entire exhibition of Peter’s work held in Perth some years ago was bought out by the late private collector Robert Holmes a’ Court. Maralwanga taught both Ivan Namirriki and his four nephews to paint when the family lived at an isolated outstation called Marrkolidjpan, between Oenpelli and Maningrida. Later the nephews moved further towards Maningrida, but Ivan remained as guardian of the vast traditional lands he has now inherited. He is also the ceremonial leader of his clan, and the keeper of all the myths telling of the history and religion of the Kunwinjku tribe.
Ivan is now regarded as one of the foremost artists of the Kunwinjku tribe, and has reached the level of fame accorded to his father, who painstakingly taught him how to paint the complex designs of crosshatching, (rarrk), appearing on the bodies of the creatures he depicts, using the brilliant colours which belong to the clan. The ochres are found in secret deposits in the ground, the white colour comes from a clay site in the bush, and black is charcoal from camp fires. His work is much sought after throughout the world.
Ivan’s camp before the new house was built
Ivan has several children and when they reach the age of 15 or so he will start teaching his sons how to paint on bark and on Arches Rives paper, so that the stories handed down to him by his late father will never die out. He still hunts and fishes in the traditional way, and has great obligations on him to look after all of Maralwanga’s seven wives and many children. It is incumbent on him to keep painting to supply all their needs and-to keep improving his outstation. He helped his father grub out the trees by hand to form an airstrip and to erect a windmill on the banks of the freshwater creek beside his camp, and is anxious to improve the living conditions of his extended family by building houses better than the bush shanties and corrugated iron dwellings at present on the site. He does not drink liquor, and is a most conscientious and dedicated leader of his people.
Collections Held: Artbank, Sydney. National Gallery of Australia, Canberra. Art Gallery of South Australia, Adelaide. Djomi Museum Maningrida. National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne. Museum and Art Gallery of NT, Darwin
Exhibitions: 1983, Artists of Arnhem Land, Canberra School of Arts. 1988, Kunwinjku Artists, Beaufort Convention Centre, Darwin. 1989, Kunwinjku, Deutscher Gertrude Street. 2000, Sydney, with John Mawundjal 2000, The Seventeenth National Aboriginal Art Awards, Museum and Art Gallery of NT, Darwin 2001, Germany with John Mawundjal 2001, The Eighteenth National Aboriginal Art Awards, Museum and Art Gallery of NT, Darwin 2002, The Nineteenth National Aboriginal Art Awards, Museum and Art Gallery of NT, Darwin 2003, The Twentyth National Aboriginal Art Awards, Museum and Art Gallery of NT, Darwin