Artist: Willie Gudupi (Gudabi) & Moima Willie
Area: Yugul Mangl. Ngukurr Northern Territory
Title: Untitled (Alawa Country)
Date: Pre 1997
Medium: Acrylic on canvas
Size: 1850 x 1330 mm
Palya Art 0245HR
Price: AUD $20,000.00
Willie Gudipi’s work focused on initiation and mortuary ceremonies. The divisions in Gudipi’s paintings isolate parts of the story and also indicate the boundaries of clan estates. The images include ancestors in human and animal form, weapons, tools, and a plethora of flora. Source: Wally Caruana, “Aboriginal Art”, Thames and Hudson, 1993. pp 82-84
“Willie Gudabi (1916-1996) was born on Nutwood Downs Station. He grew up in Alawa country, hunting and gathering on the margins of small cattle stations such as St Vidgeon, Bauhinia Downs, Nutwood Downs and Tanumbirini. Before he went to live at Ngukurr, Gudbai worked as a stockman at some of these stations, including Tanumbirini where he was initiated. Gudabi was the custodian of cave art sites in Alawa country, which lies to the west of Mara country, south-west of Ngukurr and directly south of the Roper River. After experimenting with printmaking in 1986, Gudabi and other Ngukurr artists began to paint in acrylic on canvas, often working collaboratively with his wife Moima Willie (Ngalakan born c.1935). He soon developed an elaborate, vibrant style akin to tapestry. A figure that recurs in Gudabi’s work is Gurdang – one of the last survivors of the early contact period who left a legacy of rock art in Alawa country and was associated with a secret ceremony central to Gudabi’s paintings.
Gudabi held his first solo exhibition at William Mora Galleries, Melbourne, in conjunction with Alcaston Gallery in 1990. The following year his work was featured in Aboriginal Art and Spirituality at the High Court in Canberra and in Flash Pictures, an Australian National Gallery travelling exhibition. In 1993, the artist won the Gold Coast City Art Award and the Alice Prize, Alice Springs. The artist’s work was featured in Figures in the Land, National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne, 1996 and Ngundungunya: art for everyone, NGV, Melbourne, 1997.
Moima Willie (b.1935) was born at the Roper River mission where she attended school and worked during the day, gardening and looking after the mission grounds and animals. She was very young when she married Alawa lawman Willie Gudabi (1918-96). As a young wife she lived at Hodgson Downs whilst Gudabi travelled extensively as a successful stockman.
From 1987 onwards, Moima, a founding artist of the Ngundungunya Association of Artists Ngukurr, painted with her husband. Their work wasincluded in Aboriginal Art and Spirituality, The High Court of Australia, Canberra, 1991 and in many Ngukurr exhibitions. Source National Gallery of Victoria
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