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Alec Mingelmanganu

Wandjina - 1975

natural earth pigment on bark
51 x 23 cm
Price Realised: $26,840.00

MP #614


Field Collected by Kim Akerman, NSW

Written Verso:

To be held in trust for Piers Akerman
a rare Aboriginal bark painting depicting a Wandjina spirit figure
To be kept in family/friends (sic)
very magic bark of sacred creator
From 3/77 Bless you and may we continue friendship
from brother Kim

51 x 23 cm (irregular)
64.5 x 37.5 cm (frame)

Alec Mingelmanganu’s Wandjina paintings were first recognised by the public in mid-1975, when an ochre on bark painting under the title ‘Austral Gothic’ was entered into the Boab Festival Art Competition, Derby, WA by Kim Akerman. Unfortunately, the judge considered that the work, while a brilliant example of Kimberley Aboriginal art, was undoubtedly an early ethnographic piece that consequently did not meet the conditions of the competition – i.e. a work executed within the last 12 months. On being informed, however, that the work was in fact an original and contemporary piece, the judge persuaded the West Kimberley Shire Council to make a payment equivalent to the value of first prize to the artist.

Alec Mingelmanganu was first formally exhibited in the First Wandjina Artist exhibition at Aboriginal Traditional Arts Perth in 1976. Art dealer Mary Macha introduced him to painting on canvas in 1979 and, in 1980, she organised Alec’s first solo exhibition in Perth. It was while in Perth that Alec had the opportunity to view works by other artists that had been painted on monumental canvases. As a result of this experience, Mingelmanganu was to paint four exceptionally large works of his own prior to his death.

This particular painting was produced in 1975, before stable fixatives in the form of commercial wood glues had been introduced to Kimberley artists. This painting was gifted to Akerman's brother Piers and sister-in-law Suzanne in the late 1970s.