• Artwork:Battle of Dumbai
  • Artist:Gordon Barunga
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Battle of Dumbaiby Gordon Barunga

The cover of this blank notebook depicts an reproduction image of an artwork titled Battle of Dumbai,which was painted by known Aboriginal artist Gordon Barunga. The figures depicted represent the Wandjina's or Wondjina's. In Aboriginal mythology, the Wandjina were cloud and rain spirits who, during the Dream time, created or influenced the landscape and its inhabitants. When they found the place they would die, they painted their images on cave walls and entered a nearby waterhole. Today, certain Aboriginal people of the Mowanjum tribes repaint the images to ensure the continuity of the Wandjina's presence. The Wandjina paintings have common colours of black, red and yellow on a white background. They appear alone or in groups, vertically or horizontally depending on the dimensions of the rock, and can be depicted with figures and objects like the Rainbow Serpent or yams. Common composition is with large upper bodies and heads that show eyes and nose, but typically no mouth. Two explanations have been given for this: they are so powerful they do not require speech and if they had mouths, the rain would never cease. Around the heads of Wandjina are lines or blocks of colour, depicting lightning, clouds or rain. The Wandjina can punish those who break the law with floods, lightning and cyclones. The paintings are still believed to possess these powers and therefore are to be approached and treated respectfully. Each site and painting has a name.

  • Artist:Gordon Barunga
  • Title:Battle of Dumbai
  • ID:AB016
  • Medium:Hard cover A5 approx 112 blank pages
  • Size:16 x 22 cm
  • Region:Kimberley, Western Australia


Gordon Barunga was born in 1961 and comes from Mowanjum Community, near Derby, in Western Australia. His clan are the Worora people. Gordon is the third son of Albert and Pudja Barunga (Albert has sadly passed away). Prior to taking up painting Gordon worked at several stations in the Kimerberley area, including, Panijan Station, One Arm Point and Christmas Creek.

He is well know for his traditional depictions of Wandjina images and scenes of Pantijan country. The Wandjina creation spirit controls the rain, shapes the landscape and maintains the fertility of the environment. The 4000 year old rock art cave paintings found in the Kimerberley’s depict the creation spirit with overly large heads with headdresses, a face but no mounth and large black eyes. Gordon’s artworks capture the Wandjina figures that so closely presents these ancient cave paintings.

Through his artwork he shows his love for country and all that comes from there. The traditional images of the Wandjina first came to international prominence during the 2000 Olympics held in Sydney. From there the Wandina has been a sort after art depiction but can only be depicted in contemporary art by those who have custodianship and are authorised to do so. The Worora, Wunumbal and Ngarinyin people from the Kimberley’s share custodianship of this Dreamtime story. Gordon is a senior artist and has permission to depict this Dreaming in a modern form through his art.

Not confined to only one Dreaming or artistic style Gordon also paints realistic landscapes, similar in style to Albert Namatjira and his country around Ntaria (Hermannsburg, in Central Australia).

Gordon is a key artist for the Mowanjum Aboriginal Art and Culture Centre and in 2014 is involved in the group exhibition titled “Traversing Borders: Art from the Kimberley”. He has been involved in several media reports, sharing his Dreamings, life and loves and his artwork is part of the National Gallery of Victoria’s art collection.

As an art lover or collector, his traditional Aboriginal iconography depictions provide us an important story of the ancient knowledge, cultural practices and beliefs ofAustralian Aboriginal people whilst still being reasonably affordable. He is a senior artist in his home community and a well known artist within the Kimberley region.

Sadly, Central Art does not hold any of his artworks, we do celebrate his artistic vision, talents and cultural knowledge through our gift store. We have beautiful journals with one of Gordon’s artworks on the front. Should we ever have the opportunity to work with Gordon we would be thrilled to do so.

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