We use cookies to understand how you use our site and to improve your experience. This includes personalising content and advertising. To learn more, check out our Privacy Policy


by Paul Neeson
posted 07/03/2023

Dhopiya Yunupiŋu, art from NE Arnhem

Dhopiya Yunupiŋu currently has her first solo exhibition at Sullivan & Strumpf Galleries in Zetland, with works on bark and ceramics. Arts Wednesday chats to Will Stubbs, co-ordinator at the Buku Larrŋgay Mulka Art Centre in Yirrkala.

DHOPIYA YUNUPIŊGU, Djiḻawurr, 2022, natural earth pigments on stringybark, 87 x 65 cm.

Will tells us about the history of the Yolnu people in Yirrkala. It is a story of dispossession and rebirth. Dispossession by the Methodist Mission established in 1935, and later the threat of Japanese invasion and the subsequent military occupation of their lands, and more recently by bauxite miners.

And rebirth in that through all these events, the local art practice has thrived, and now through the work of the Art Centre, it is being seen throughout the world at major galleries and festivals.

Dhopiya’s works tell the songlines of visiting trepang fishers from Maccassa in Sulawesi. Using a combination of traditional sacred rrark, (cross-hatching) known as minthe in North East Arnhem land, and figures she depicts stories that provide insights into the history of the local indigenous people – a fact that the wider Australian community is only just discovering and acknowledging.

DHOPIYA YUNUPIŊGU, Macassan pot, 2022, ceramic, 41 x 36 x 36 cm.

Will goes on to talk about the history of remote indigenous art centres and the vital link they have played in the past and present in bringing authentic Indigenous works of fine art to market. He talks specifically of his own centre in Yirrkala, the day to day running of it and the amazing input from the community. A lawyer in Sydney and Darwin in a previous life, employed by the community, Will has managed the centre for near on 30 years and talks with great love and passion for his community and the incredible works of art they produce, not just visual art, but dance, song and music too.

Due to International Women’s Day falling on Wednesday, this interview will be broadcast on Friday 10 March at 10.30.

Arts FRIDAY 10 March 2023 10.30-12.00

Eastside Radio 89.7fm