About Yolngu Arts & Culture

Yolngu Arts & Culture is a 100%-owned professional Aboriginal enterprise,
offering a rare opportunity to experience authentic Aboriginal knowledge and culture through creative and cultural workshops, performance, artworks and gifts. Yolngu Aboriginal Arts & Culture also offer an art design commission service – if you would like a design especially for your event, sports jersey, work vehicle, etc contact us.


While Sylvia and Clinton are conveniently Darwin-based, these are Yolngu people. Their Country is Milingimbi Island, half a kilometre off the mid-north coast of Arnhem Land (NT) in the Arafura Sea (approximately 440 km east of Darwin). Aboriginal people have occupied this area for more than 40,000 years. Milingimbi people are the Yolngu (‘Aboriginal person’) and Yolngu is the language they speak.


Clinton Gaykamangu and Sylvia Nulpinditj are the principals of Yolngu Aboriginal Arts & Culture, but they have a large team of Aboriginal talent with them. Skilled in traditional dance performance (with some contemporary interpretations), art/design in traditional Yolngu style, and dance/art workshop facilitation. Both are Clinton and Sylvia are recognised cultural knowledge holders. Painting and dance are not just creative expressions as they are in Western culture. Painting and dance are law. The practice is about developing an important discipline, there is no swearing, drinking or smoking around painting, singing or dancing. The practice is also about creating the balance of life between wrong and right, about connecting to Country. It is about living respectfully, and teaching that respect to children.


Clinton was taught painting from his father when he was a teenager. As he grew older, Clinton began to understand that the best way to connect to his Country is to paint. And the best way to ‘talk’ about his homeland is through showing his paintings. Clinton often paints his main totem is ‘Birrkuda’ (Sugar Bag Honey Bee). “Birrkuda is me,” Clinton explains. Painting culture earns respect in community, particularly amongst the Elders. Clinton also sings the song lines about the bee, and with his group dances like a bee, embodying the characteristics of the bee. “When it stings we show that through fire,” says Clinton.


Both of Sylvia’s parents were responsible for teaching her culture. Sylvia is from the Galpu clan and recognised as a traditional artist by a variety of clan groups in north Arnhem Land. She is particularly respected in the area of painting women for ceremony and especially young girls. Sylvia enjoys sharing and teaching culture, “I can’t help but share!” she says with a smile. Sylvia hopes, through sharing, that there will be a greater understanding of importance of culture – and for others to embrace it. She is also experienced in filmmaking – known for writing and directing the films: ‘Bulunu Milkarri’ and ‘Djurrpun (Evening Star)’.


For more information, please contact Clinton or Sylvia.

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