Gudu Mungulu

Mowanjum Art and Culture Centre

Gudu commenced painting in 1998 and continued at Mowanjum Art and Culture Centre which lies 10kms from Derby in the West Kimberley of Western Australia. She continues to inspire her family with stories from her traditional culture. “My grandchildren ask me about the Wandjina, about the rules. They know about it. I tell them. You need to tell them the stories. They want to know about the past.”

As a child, Gudu lived at the Kunmunya mission, located near Camden Sound and Augustus Island in the centre of the Worrorra lands. People from this location were encouraged to visit the Wandjina painting sites, to hunt kangaroo and sea life, and to speak their languages.

In the 1950s, Gudu moved to Wotjulum where the groups from Munja and Kummunya were combined to create a new Presbyterian Mission before moving to Derby. The new community in Derby was called Mowanjum, which means ‘settled at last’. However, another move would be imposed on the community to the current Mowanjum site.

Gudu married Allan Mungulu. Allan was the chairman for the community and was very involved in the town and the church.

“I like doing painting. I have a feeling of it, something important. I like to keep the feeling up. I tell my kids about the feeling. I paint my own Wandjina stories like painting the honeybee. I got permission from the older people, owners of those things. The honeybee should be black but I put maybe yellow on the back. Story is plain black, but I add colour. Nobody told me. I did it on my own to do something to make it standout.”

Gudu’s honeybees are displayed at the Perth International Airport alongside artwork by other Aboriginal artists. Further, Gudu’s bees were part of the Enlighten Festival 2020 when her work was projected onto Australian Parliament House Canberra ACT.