Dorothy Djukulul

Dorothy Djukulul


Born: 10.06.1942

Skin name: Bulanydjan

Language: Ganalbingu

Dreaming: Yirritja

Clan: Gurrumba Gurrumba

Djukulul was one of the first recognized female painters in Ramingining, Central Arnhem Land. Born in 1942 at Murwangi, near Mulgurrum Outstation, and schooled in Milingimbi in the 1960s, Djukulul was taught the art of painting by her father Dick Ngulmarmar and brothers George Milpurrurru and Charlie Djurritjni.

Her old father, Ngulmarmar, consulted with the elders and obtained their permission for Dorothy to be allowed to paint the traditional designs so that there would be a better chance of the art and sacred stories of the Ganalbingu tribe being kept alive. In this way she occupies a special place in Aboriginal art in that she has been allowed to paint designs normally taboo to women. Within these designs and traditional religious stories she has developed her own unique style which separates her from other artists. Her style and “hand’ are much admired by Aboriginal people and Europeans alike. She exhibits an inner strength which underlies the power of her own character, enabling her to continue to paint through the years despite social pressures often exerted to keep her in her place.

Before painting seriously, Djukulul worked in the stockyard – mustering cattle on foot.

After moving to Ramingining in the 1970s, Djukulul started to paint in the newly established Ramingining town and art centre. Djukulul soon developed a unique painting style comprising  sacred designs and religious stories.

Djukulul was one of the first Ramingining women to paint her own story, moving away from her husband’s traditional patterns and totems. Traditionally, Yolgnu women were only associated and categorised as weavers and Djukulul paved the way for other Yolgnu women to be recognised as painters.

It was not until her second exhibition titled Dorothy Djukulul and Djardie Ashley, held in 1986 at the Aboriginal Artists Gallery, Melbourne, where Robert Holmes a Court acquired ten pieces for his personal collection, that Djukulul’s place in the art world was established.

Djukulul contributed five Dupan (Hollow Logs) for the 1988 Aboriginal Memorial, an installation of 200 Dupan commemorating the deaths of indigenous people since white occupation. The installation was exhibited at the Biennial of Sydney – Beneath the Southern Cross, before moving to the National Gallery of Australia as a permanent display.

Djukulul has experienced great success both nationally and internationally, with five individual exhibitions and over 30-group exhibitions, and works held in numerous public and private collections.  Djukulul’s works continue to be well sought after.


Djanda - Goanna - (Yidaki/Didgeridoo) - 2016
Dorothy Djukulul
  • $2,500.00