Wukun’s father, Mithili Wanambi, died before he was able to learn from him to any great degree. He began painting in 1997 as a result of the Saltwater project in which he participated. His arm of the Marrakulu clan is responsible for saltwater imagery which had not been painted intensively since his father’s death in 1981.
His caretakers, or Djunggayi, principally the late Yanggarriny Wunungmurra (1932-2003), transferred their knowledge of these designs to Wukun so that the title to Saltwater could be asserted. Some of these designs were outside even his father’s public painting repertoire.
Wukun’s first bark for this Saltwater project won the 1998 NATSIAA Best Bark award. Wukun has gone on to establish a high profile career. In the 2003 NATSIAA awards, a sculptured larrakitj by Wukun was Highly Commended in the 3D category, and since then he has been included in many prestigious collections. He had his first solo show at Raft Artspace in Darwin in 2004 followed by solo shows at Niagara Galleries, Melbourne in 2005 and 2008.
Wukun has been involved heavily in all the major communal projects of this decade including the Sydney Opera House commission, the opening of the National Museum of Australia, the Wukidi ceremony in the Darwin Supreme Court and the films: Lonely Boy Richard, The Pilot’s Funeral and Dhakiyarr versus The King. Wukun is an active community member in recreation and health projects and supports a large family.
In 2014 Wukun graduated from The Wilin Centre for Indigenous Arts course in Indigenous Arts Management. Offering the only graduate course of its type, The Wilin Centre provides specialist training, knowledge and skills that prepare participants for leadership roles in the arts industry.
Yolngu Matha, English
Arnhem Land, Ranku
Governance & Further Qualifications
- ANKAAA Stand in Director (since 2012)
- Mulka Project, Yirrkala, Director
- Buku Larrnggay Mulka, Board
- ORIC Governance Training for ANKAAA Directors (2013 – 2 Days)
- The Wilin Centre, University of Melbourne, Indigenous Arts Management Graduate Certificate (2014)