NGV Triennial

Dhambit Mununggurr
Can we all have a happy life


Explore Dhambit Mununggurr Virtually

Dhambit Munuŋgurr’s immersive installation Can we all have a happy life 2019–2020 is made up of 15 bark paintings and nine larrakitj (hollow poles). The work was created at Buku- Larrŋgay Mulka Centre, a Yolŋu-owned art centre located in the small Aboriginal community of Yirrkala in Northeast Arnhem Land. It is customary for artists from this region, who paint Country and its stories, to paint with ochres collected from the natural environment. Ochres and other pigments are ground against a flat stone, mixed with water and glue, then applied with a marwat (human hairbrush) to single sheets of stringybark. In 2005 Munuŋgurr was given special permission to use acrylic paint, following a car accident that left her using a wheelchair and made it more challenging for her to manipulate natural pigments around a bark canvas. This significant concession has enabled Munuŋgurr to become the first artist at Buku to use the colour blue in Yolŋu art.

Dhambit Munuŋgurr is an artist and the daughter of two winners of the First Prize in the National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Art Award: Mutitjpuy Munuŋgurr and Gulumbu Yunupiŋu. Following a car accident in 2005, which left her with life threatening injuries, Munuŋgurr has become prolific with her art making. For many years, she worked as an independent artist constantly painting and selling, or giving away, her work. In these works Munuŋgurr used acrylics in ochre colours to overcome her inability to grind the ochres by hand. In 2018 working at Buku-Larrŋgay Mulka Centre, Munuŋgurr produced a large bark for inclusion in The Telstra National Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Art Awards (NATSIAA). Following the success of that work, she fell in love with the colour blue, which she has now settled on as the dominant palette for her large works.

The NGV warmly thanks Triennial Lead Supporter Orloff Family Charitable Trust for their support.