PLAN YOUR VISIT - Discover mythological narratives and stories of migration with new exhibition Land & Sea (2 March - 16 June 2024)


28 October 2023 – 11 February 2024


Miwatj Yolŋu – Sunrise People explores storytelling, ecology and materiality in the works of Yolŋu artists from the Yirrkala Community in East Arnhem Land. Like the Shoalhaven, Yirrkala is a place where fresh and saltwater meet, and its lands and waterways inform diverse creative practices.

The catalogue

Featuring a response to the exhibition from Nici Cumpston, poetry by Jeanine Leane and Charmaine Papertalk Green, and traditional song from the Ŋaymil clan, Barbara Ŋuliny Ganambarr, Merrkiyawuy Dhaḻuḻu Ganambarr.

Purchase Online

Ms N Marawili

Dhambit Munuŋgurr

Gaypalani Waṉambi

Mulkuṉ Wirrpanda

Muluymuluy Wirrpanda

Djirrirra Wunuŋmurra

Djakaŋu Yunupiŋu

Nyapanyapa Yunupiŋu

Wanapati Yunupiŋu

The Mulka Project:

Ruby Djikarra Alderton

Ishmael Marika

Patrina Munuŋgurr

Gutiŋarra Yunupiŋu

Miwatj Yolŋu translates to ‘sunrise people’ in Yolŋu Matha (Yolŋu tongue). Geographically, Miwatj refers to the furthest north-eastern part of Arnhem Land that receives the morning sun, as it rises in the east.

Yolŋu artists enact cultural traditions through the expression of both sacred and secular narratives. The use of materials from local lands is an important part of this practice, encompassing natural ochres, ṉuwayak (bark painting) and larrakitj (memorial poles). Some artists in this exhibition have pioneered the use of reclaimed materials, such as repurposed dance boards, toner inks from used printer cartridges and signage salvaged from nearby bauxite (aluminium) mining operations. Others employ audio-visual technology in the documentation of ceremony, cultural history and the creation of new media artworks.

Presenting both senior and emerging artists from across the Yirrkala region, Miwatj Yolŋu highlights the centrality of weather patterns and ecological systems within Yolŋu culture. It brings together works from the Buku-Larrŋggay Mulka Centre, the Mulka Project digital archive, and public and private collections from across Australia, sharing interwoven stories of land, water and sky.


Engage Online

Nici Cumpston | Public Talk

Hear from Nici Cumpston as she shares her knowledge of artistic practices from East Arnhem Land, including the work of Djakaŋu Yunupiŋu who features in Miwatj Yolŋu and Tarnanthi. 

Nici Cumpston OAM is a proud Barkandji artist, curator and writer and commenced as the inaugural Curator of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Art at the Art Gallery of South Australia in 2008. She has been the Artistic Director of Tarnanthi Festival of Contemporary Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Art since 2014.

Jeanine Leane | Poetry Reading

Hear from Jeanine Leane in the Art Museum this weekend for a poetry reading of her most recent work, followed by a participatory workshop that draws inspiration from the works of Miwatj Yolŋu – Sunrise People.

Jeanine Leane is a Wiradjuri author and former Bundanon artist in residence. In 2023 Leane was the recipient of the David Harold Tribe Poetry Award 2023.

Recurring Program

  • Buku-Larrŋgay
  • Sydney Festival Logo

Miwatj Yolŋu – Sunrise People is presented in collaboration with Buku-Larrngay Mulka Centre, The Mulka Project, and Sydney Festival.


Bundanon acknowledges the people of the Dharawal and Dhurga language groups as the traditional owners of the land within our boundaries, and recognises their continuous connection to culture, community and Country.

In Dharawal the word Bundanon means deep valley.

This website contains names, images and voices of deceased Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.