Clan: Maŋgalili, Belaŋ group
Galuma is the surviving daughter of the great Narritjin. Galuma was one of the first Yolŋu women to be instructed to paint (by her father) the sacred clan designs that were previously the domain of high ranking men.
In preparation for her first solo exhibition of her art she rang through to Buku-Larrŋgay the following statement:
“This is what I really learnt from my father. First when I was still in school at Yirrkala he used to let me sit next to him, me and my brothers and he used to show us all the paintings from Wayawu and Djarrakpi. And he’d say this is our paintings and I’m telling you this about the paintings for in the future when I’m passed away you can use them. Then I forgot all this when I was in school – then I stopped but I was still thinking the way he was teaching us. Then one day I decided to start on a bark by helping him at Yirrkala. Every afternoon after work I used to sit with him and paint little barks – mostly from Djarrakpi but a little from the freshwater country at Wayawu but not Milŋaywuy. Then I kept on doing it over and over on cardboard until my hand it gets better and better and I put it in my mind, then it was working and I kept on doing it.
I went to Djarrakpi with my family to live with my father and my mother and brothers. My brothers passed away and we had to go back to Yirrkala. I left my father and mother there when I went to live at Bäniyala. My husbands family were living there. I was teaching at the Bäniyala school still doing a little bit of painting but mainly schooling.
When my father and family died I stopped painting – just doing school work. Once I moved to Dhuruputjpi in 1982/3 I started to paint again because no one else was doing it and I was thinking about the way my father was talking and how did he handle all this. How did my father do all this? – travel and paint – how to handle this painting so I kept on thinking. I’m not really prouding myself but I want to do this painting as my father did it and to keep it in my mind. But I really want this painting to keep going.
My gurruŋ (Djambawa Marawili) he is looking after it as his Märi (mothers mothers side) and others are looking after it also. I have to teach my kids in case some one might steal the designs. So my kids can know what their mothers paintings is”.
As a participant in the groundbreaking exhibition ‘Buwayak’ at Annandale Galleries in 2003 and a winner of that year’s Best Bark painting prize at the Telstra Aboriginal Art Awards her significance cannot be overstated. Her health problems have not stopped her from painting or living in the remote homelands of Dhuruputjpi, Djarrakpi or Yilpara. She is a fierce advocate and mainstay of homeland life. Her importance was acknowledged by two solo shows at Annandale Galleries in 2007 and 2014.