Our story

Housed in an historic earth-rendered Mission building constructed in the 1930s, Milingimbi Art and Culture creates culturally relevant artworks, employment, and governance systems underpinned by Yolŋu worldview and values.

Milingimbi Art and Culture is an Indigenous-owned, non-profit corporation which supports Yolŋu culture and sustainable livelihoods for artists on the island of Yurrwi (Milingimbi), in North East Arnhem Land. It is a social, cultural and economic hub for our community. Milingimbi Art provides income for many families living on Milingimbi and its regional homelands and supports Yolŋu from over 12 language groups.

In Yolŋu culture the land, sea, ceremony, song, Law and clan designs are inseparable. Milingimbi artists share these inter-connections through the designs, materials and stories used in our distinctive woven, painted and carved artworks.

Ethnographic objects from Milingimbi were first acquired as early as 1912, with material culture being more systematically collected from the 1920s following the arrival of the first missionaries.  By the 1960s the centre was well established as a fertile source of traditional Yolŋu art for national and international collections. Milingimbi artworks are recognised widely for their artistic integrity and cultural significance.

Milingimbi Art and Culture supports the sharing of ceremonial knowledge across generations through its programs and community partnerships.

Our purpose

  • We value Yolŋu culture as the foundation of daily life in Milingimbi and support meaningful and sustainable work for artists and elders.
  • To sell artworks at a fair price which acknowledges the artists’ cultural knowledge, skills and labour.
  • Represent and promote our artists access to national and international markets.
  • Invest in creative and professional development for our artists and provide on-the-job training of our staff.
  • Support traditional skills and knowledge through their everyday application at the Art Centre. 
  • Support living culture, document current artworks and artist stories for future generations, and to make accessible extensive historic records that have been repatriated to the community through our Djalkiri Keeping Place program.
  • We are led by a Yolŋu board of directors and are committed to strong indigenous governance.

Our djäma (work)

The Art Centre supports artists day to day needs and long-term goals. We:

  • sustainably harvest materials from Milingimbi and surrounding homelands.
  • supply materials and tools for the harvest of materials and creation of artworks.
  • document and archive artworks and artists’ stories. Arts workers photograph artworks, translate and transcribe artwork stories and add information to our database. 
  • document artistic development for the community. At the Centre community members can access images and information about their family’s artwork dating back to the 1920s.
  • document artistic development for the market. The Art Centre provides information to institutions and collectors that supports the acquisition and correct documentation of artworks for major public and private collections.
  • maintain strong relationships with galleries, museums and private collectors. These relationships support artists to have a reputable presence in the national and international contemporary art market.
  • provide employment. The Art Centre employs six local Yolŋu staff members and provides on-going training in all aspects of Art Centre operations.
  • provide training with the guarantee of increased income for unemployed people.  The Art Centre provides training for CDP participants. Our program links the culturally-based skills of participants with opportunities for commercial partnerships with leading Australian design companies.