Organized by the Kluge-Ruhe Aboriginal Art Collection

Naminapu Maymuru-White | The Milky Way

Naminapu Maymuru-White

The Milky Way, 2003





Milŋuyawuy | The Milky Way

"[Naminapu] focuses on the core significance of the Milŋiyawuy, and figurative elements are no longer present. The outline of the river is ever present, but, over time, the pattern of stars against a background of smaller dots and stippling becomes the dominant effect. And the underlying background of red ochre is replaced by black. The paintings can now be seen as images of the sky at night, encompassing the universe and conveying a sense of great depth and distance. Nami is creating impressions of the sky at night that the non-Yolŋu viewer, too, can see. "


More Info

Naminapu Maymuru-White learned the story of Milŋiyawuy from her father’s brother, Narritjin Maymuru, developing it into her own innovative yuta miny’tji (new designs). Compare this work, produced in 2003, with her later work Milŋiyawuy (2019). These two works illustrate this development, as she has gradually shed the traditional Maŋgalili clan designs to focus on the shimmering constellations of the Milky Way. Retaining their connection to the ancestral narrative of Milŋiyawuy, these works are meditations on the passage from life to death and the transformation from earthly being to spiritual form.

– Kluge-Ruhe Aboriginal Art Collection

Additional Information




Natural pigments on eucalyptus bark

Dimensions (IN)

61 13/16 x 18 7/8

Dimensions (CM)

157 x 48


Hood Museum of Art, Dartmouth College. Gift of Will Owen and Harvey Wagner. 2011.43.67.



The Maŋgalili clan belongs to the Yirritja moiety. Their major spiritual theme revolves around the...

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Milŋuyawuy | The Milky Way

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About The Artist(s)



Artist Dates

Born 1952

Naminapu Maymuru-White

Naminapu Maymuru-White was born at the Yirrkala Mission in Northeast Arnhem Land, the daughter of artist Nänyin Maymuru. Having attended the mission school and working at local stores, Naminapu was always drawn to art making. Studying her father’s artwork from childhood, and receiving instruction from her uncle Narritjin Maymuru and her father, Naminapu was one of the first Yolŋu women to be taught how to paint miny’tji, sacred created clan designs, and later played an important role in the declassification of previously restricted designs for commercial and legal use. Having lived in Gurka’wuy during the early days of the Homeland Movement, Melbourne, Darwin, and later returning to a now self-governed Yirrkala, Naminapu worked as a teacher, art instructor, and curator at the Buku-Larrnggay Arts Center. She is a two-time winner at the National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Art Awards.

Collections Represented


Art Gallery of New South Wales

Art Gallery of South Australia

Australian National Maritime Museum

Berndt Museum of Anthropology at the University of Western Australia

Museum and Art Gallery of the Northern Territory

National Gallery of Australia

National Gallery of Victoria

National Museum of Australia

Queensland Art Gallery and Gallery of Modern Art