Milminyina Dhamarrandji



Born in



Lives in

Dhambaliya / Ruwak / Ringari





Milminyina was born in 1960 at Wirrwawuy, near Yirrkala and Nhulunbuy on the Gove Peninsula, at the very northeastern tip of the Northern Territory. She is the daughter of Gumatj woman Rrirraliny Yunupiŋu (a daughter of famous arist and political figure Mungurrawuy Yunupiŋu), and Gunguyuma Dhamarrandji, who was brought up by the legendary Djapu leader Woŋgu Munuŋgurr. Her märi, or mother’s mother’s clan, is Rirratjiŋu, the landowners of Yirrkala, who share many sacred designs with the Djambarrpuyŋu of this area. The Djambarrpuyŋu clan which she belongs to are mainly based in the Westerly end of the Yolŋu nation near a major sacred site at Buckingham Bay. This arm of the clan use the surname Guyula. A small cluster of the clan is based around a group of sacred sites at Yirrkala. These people are known by the surname Dhammarrandji. In the ancestral everywhen the spirit people of this place and the offshore islands in the form of terns conducted ceremony around the Merri or sacred string which was cut. The short string was given to the Rirratjiŋu and the longer to the Djambarrpuyŋu. Hence the Rirratjiŋu are sedentary here and the Djambarrpuyŋu range far to the West.

The main theme she painted until 2022 was the crescent shapes of Rulyapa, the saltwater country estates shared by these two clans. She was taught to paint and weave by her mother, having grown up watching her work. She was educated at Dhupuma College, on her mother’s Gumatj land at Guḻkuḻa, and attended workshops at Wollongong University in printing and etching in 1996. She also painted on ceramics and assisted with painting yiḏaki while residing on Gumatj land at Gunyaŋara’ from the 1990’s, until relocating to her märi land at Yirrkala in 2003 and on to Gälaru in 2006. She had sold paintings on canvas for years but recently expanded her presence and status working on bark paintings and Larrakitj (memorial poles) at Buku-Larrŋgay Mulka. It was in this context that she began to explore the theme of the songlines associated with ceremonies connected to Dhambadiŋ (Death or Deaf Adder) on Bremer Island. She is an active and engaged member of her community who is seen as a truly positive force. She is always friendly and cheerful and has a keen intelligence. She involves herself fully in ceremony and community welfare. In 2023 she travelled to the USA twice within one month- the first trip to open the ‘Maḏayin- Eighty Years of bark painting from Yirrkala’ in Washington and the second to guide a group of school children from Gunyuŋarra to a robot competition which they did very well in.