Event Name John Mawurndjul: I am the old and the new
Start Date 8 Mar 2019 5:30 pm
End Date 26 May 2019 4:00 pm
Duration 78 days, 23 hours and 30 minutes
The old ways of doing things have changed into the new ways. The new generation does things differently. But me, I have two ways. I am the old and the new. 
- John Mawurndjul

John Mawurndjul AM (b.1952, Kubukkan, western Arnhem Land, Northern Territory, Australia) is celebrated for his mastery of rarrk (fine painted cross-hatching), a tradition shared by generations of Kuninjku artists. This exhibition of bark paintings and sculptures tells the stories of Kuninjku culture and the significant locations surrounding the artist’s home in western Arnhem Land.

I am the old and the new includes over 50 works, spanning forty years of John Mawurndjul's practice.

John Mawurndjul, Ngalyod (Female rainbow serpent), 1988
Museum of Contemporary Art, purchased with funds donated by Mr and Mrs Jim Bain, 1989.  

© John Mawurndjul / Copyright Agency, 2019, photograph: Jessica Maurer.

Presented bilingually in Kuninjku and English, the exhibition illuminates Kuninjku culture and the dynamic connections between land and ancestral power in Mawurndjul’s home in western Arnhem Land. It also reveals the mastery of an artist who vividly provides a narrative thread linking the past to the present and beyond. John Mawurndjul: I am the old and the new is rightly described by curator-writer Hetti Perkins as ‘a self-portrait … the embodiment of the contemporary spirit of an old soul’.

Art Gallery of South Australia and MCA curators Nici Cumpston, Dr Lisa Slade, Natasha Bullock and Clothilde Bullen commented: ‘This artist-led exhibition has been an extraordinary journey across country and culture, with multiple voices working closely together to support and facilitate the artist’s vision. We hope that through the beauty of Mawurndjul’s art, and the extensive research that went into this exhibition, audiences will gain a deep understanding of the living history and culture of the Kuninjku people and their country’.

This exhibition was developed and co-presented by the MCA and the Art Gallery of South Australia, in association with Maningrida Arts & Culture. Visit the exhibition guide at www.johnmawurndjul.com and learn more about the artist, Kuninjku language, and over 160 artworks.


Clothilde Bullen, Natasha Bullock, Nici Cumpston and Lisa Slade with Keith Munro as Lead Cultural Advisor; in close collaboration with John Mawurndjul AM, Kay Lindjuwanga, Ananais Jawulba and Maningrida Arts & Culture staff Michelle Culpitt, Zebedee Bonson, Derek Carter and interpreter/translator Dr Murray Garde.