A: 138 Tuffin Rd, Yirrkala, NT
P: +61 8 8987 1701
BUKU-LARRŊGAY, meaning the feeling on your face as it is struck by the first rays of the sun (i.e. facing East), and Mulka meaning a sacred but public ceremony, makes up Buku Larrŋgay Mulka. The Centre is an Indigenous community-controlled Art Centre in Northeast Arnhem Land. Located in Yirrkala, a small Aboriginal community on the north-eastern tip of the Top End of the Northern Territory, approximately 700km east of Darwin. It’s primarily Yolŋu (Aboriginal) staff of 20 services Yirrkala and the approximate 25 homeland Centres in the radius of 200km.
In the 1960s, Narritjin Maymuru set up his own beachfront gallery from which he sold the art that now graces many major museums and private collections. He is counted among the Art Centre’s main inspirations and founders, and his picture hangs in its museum. His vision of creating a Yolŋu- owned business to sell Yolŋu art – which started as a shelter on a beach – has now grown into a thriving business that exhibits and sells globally.
In 1976, the Yolŋu artists established Buku- Larrŋgay Arts in the old Mission Health Centre as an act of self-determination coinciding with the withdrawal of the Methodist Overseas Mission and the Land Rights and Homeland movements. In 1988, a new museum was built with a bicentennary grant, which today houses a collection of works put together in the 1970s illustrating clan law and also the Message Sticks from 1935 and the Yirrkala Church Panels from 1963. In 1996, a screen printing workshop and extra gallery spaces were added to the space.
In 2007 The Mulka Project was added which houses and displays a collection of tens of thousands of historical images and films as well as creating new digital products. Buku-Larrŋgay Mulka Centre now consists of two divisions: the Yirrkala Art Centre which represents Yolŋu artists exhibiting and selling contemporary art and The Mulka Project which acts as a digital production studio and archiving centre incorporating the museum.
Image: Nyapanyapa Yunupiŋu painting Ganyu- Stars. Courtesy: Buku Larrŋgay Mulka. Photo: David Wickens Courtesy: Buku Larrŋgay Mulka