Two artists, two completely different approaches, but one abiding passion – to celebrate the natural bounty to be found in the floodplains, swamps, savannas and woodlands of northern Australia.

Mulkun Wirrpanda and John Wolseley, her adopted wäwa (brother), have created a powerful body of works depicting many of the edible plants of north-east Arnhem Land.

‘I made this painting after eating bundjuŋu [bush orange] … I was thinking about how we used to eat when I was a child … I was thinking about nowadays … and about the rubbish that our children eat.’

And so Mulkun Wirrpanda, a senior elder of the Dhudi-Djapu clan, resolved to paint the traditional food plants of her Yolŋu community to safeguard this knowledge for future generations.

The suite of bark paintings Mulkun created is the subject of this lavishly illustrated book for the National Museum of Australia’s new exhibition, Midawarr | Harvest: The Art of Mulkun Wirrpanda and John Wolseley. Providing a natural counterpoint to these works is a vast and beautifully detailed scroll by renowned landscape painter John Wolseley. The supporting text draws on the wealth of Yolŋu botanical knowledge, describing the food and medicinal plants featured in the paintings and how they are collected, prepared and used.


To have John Wolseley working in our community is a constant delight and honour. That he is part of our festival this year is a joy we want to share with you. This is a Quick Pick selection, so please do book to secure your seat. John is, as many know, an extraordinary speaker, a very very special artist and human being.