TRIBE: Kunwinjku

CLAN: Kulmarru

Yikarrakkal, Mann River, NT

Circa 1925 – 2008

Mick Kubarrku was born in the escarpment country of Arnhemland at the place called Kukabarnka, which is close to the Liverpool River. During his early years of growing up he would with the rest of his family travel widely across much of the surrounding country. Mainly between that owned by his father and that of his mother. Sometimes he would travel much further to the east and then return to his home country at Yikarrakkal on the Mann River.

Once adolescence was attained Kubarkku participated in many ceremonies, namely the Gunabibi and the Mardayin. It was through these ceremonies and along with the knowledge that he had.

During these early years there was virtually no white inhabitants or travellers through the area. As aresult Kubarkku di not have any schooling nor did he have a real need to learn the English language.

During the outbreak of the 2nd World War, Kubarrku and his family spent their time at Milingimbi Mission and returned to his country at the conclusion of the war. During the period immediately after the war Kubarkku worked as a stockman at Oenpelli and would travel this area and that of his own country and Darwin.

About 1957 Kubarkku settled at Maningrida, a settlement at the mouth of the Liverpool River. It was here that he first began to paint for the purpose of selling them to persons in the settlement in return for tobacco, flour and the like. Prior to this the only painting that he had done was to the inner side of the bark shelters in which he lived in the bush.

Kubarkku wa taught to paint in the early days by his father Ngindjalakku, and also his father's brothers Nabulumu, kamarramg and Malankarra. These men were men gifted in the art of painting and they would paint in their own style, the style that was passed on to Kubarkku.

During the 1970's Kubarkku was to receive much recognition for his work due to the efforts of the local craft adviser at Maningrida. His works were to be shown all around the country and have continued to be done so to this day. In 1991 he travelled to Victoria to attend the opening of the State Gallery Exhibition of Aboriginal Art..

His paintings are now represented in all major collections within Australia and many prominent collections overseas.

Kubarkku was the senior member of his clan and was regarded as the custodian of many of the stories of his people and the guardian of the sacred sites of their land.

In 1995 Mick Kubarkku along with a second Kunwinjku man, were selected by the Northern Terrotory Museum and Art Gallery to put together a major exhibition of their works. This exhibition was first shown in the Northern Territory at Darwin and was then to become a travelling one for the next two years throughout Australia. The exhibition was titled: RAINBOW SUGARBAG AND MOON

Collections held:

Artbank, SydneyArt Gallery of South Australia, Adelaide.

Art Gallery of Western Australia, Perth

Australian Museum, Sydney

Department of Archeology and Anthropology, Australian National University, Canberra

Djomi Museum, Maningrida.

Museum and Art Gallery of the Northern Territory, Darwin.

Museum of Contemporary Art, Arnotts Collection, Sydney.

National Gallery of Australia, Canberra

National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne.

National Maritime Museum, Darling Harbour, Sydney.

National Museum of Australia, Canberra.

The Holmes A Court Collection, Perth.

The Kelton Foundation, Santa Monica, USA

Group Exhibitions:

1982, Aboriginal Art at the Top, Museum and Art Gallery of the Northern Territory, Darwin.

1983, Artists of Arnhem Land, Canberra School of Arts.

1987, A selection of Aboriginal Art owned by the ANU, Drill Hall Gallery, ACT

1988, Dreamings, the art of the Aboriginal Australia, The Asia Society Galleries, New York.

1988, The Fifth National Aboriginal Art Award Exhibition, Museum and Art Gallery of the Northrn Territory, Darwin.

1988, Aboriginal art of the Top End, c.1935-Early 1970's, National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne.

1989, A selection of Aboriginal Art owned by the ANU, Drill Hall Gallery, ACT

1989, A Myriad of Dreaming: Twentieth Century Aboriginal Art, Westpac Gallery, Melbourne: Design Warehouse Sydney (through Lauraine Diggins Fine Art)

1990, Spirit in Land, bark Paintings from Arnhemland, National Gallery of Victoria

1993, The Tenth National Aboriginal Art Award Exhibition, Museum and Art Gallery of the Northern Territory, Darwin

1993/4, ARATJA.RA, Art of the First Australians, Touring: Kunstammlung Nordrhein-Wesfalen, Dusseldorf, Hayward Gallery, London: Lousiana Museum, Humleback, Denmark

1994, Power of the Land, Masterpieces of Aboriginal Art, National Gallery of Victoria.

1995, Moon, Rainbow and Sugarbag – The Art of Mick Kubarkku and Bardayal Nadjamerrek, Museum and Art Gallery of the Northern Territory, Darwin, and touring. Group exhibition at Aboriginal and South Pacific Gallery, Sydney.

1995, The Twelfth National Aboriginal Art Award, Museum and Art Gallery of the Northern Territory, Darwin.

Select Bibliography:

 Caruana, W., 1993, Aboriginal Art, Thames and Hudson, London, ©

 Diggins, L. (ed.), 1989, A Myriad of Dreaming: Twentieth Century Aboriginal Art, exhib. Cat., Malakoff Fine Art Press, North Caulfild, Victoria.

1993, Aratjarra, Art of the First Australians: Traditional and Contemporary Works by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Artists, exhib. Cat. (concieved and designed byBernard Lutifi in collaboration with Gary Lee), Dumont, Buchverlag, Koln. ©

 Ryan, J., 1990, Spirit in Land, exhib. Cat.,National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne

 Sutton, P. (ed.), 1988, Dreamings: The Art of Aboriginal Australia, Viking, Ringwood, Victoria. ©

West, M., (ed.), 1995, Rainbow Sugarbag and Moon, Two Artists of the Stone Country: Bardayal Nadjamerrek and Mick Kubarkku, exhibition cat., Museum and Art Gallery of the Northern Terrotory, Darwin.