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Bobby Nganjmirra Oenpelli Bark Painting

Bobby Nganjmirra is one of the better known artists from Oenpelli. He was the elder brother of anothers artist Jimmy and Peter who painted in a very similar style. He is best known for his figurative works depicting ceremonies.

The aim of this article is to assist readers in identifying if their bark painting is by Bobby Nganjmirra. The article compares examples of his work. He painted in an Oenpelli style.

If you have a Bobby Nganjmirra bark painting to sell please contact me. If you want to know what your Bobby Nganjmirra painting is worth to me please feel free to send me a Jpeg.  I would love to see it.



Bobby Nganjmirra Biography

Nganjmirra was born around 1915 at Malworn in his father’s country between the Goomadeer and Liverpool rivers in West Arnhem Land. Marlwon is best known as a Yawk Yawk (female water spirit) Dreaming site. This is the primary Dreaming of Bobby Nganjmirra’s branch of the Djalama clan.


Nganjmirra grew up in Marlwon living a traditional lifestyle, visiting Oenpelli for a short time in 1930. Bobby Nganjmirra spent a short time at school there at Oenpelli and also on Goulburn Island. After the Second World War he met anthropologists Roland and Catherine Berndt. He shared some of his traditional knowledge with the Berndts and they collected some of his works. In 1975 he became a member of the Aboriginal Arts Board. Most of Bobby’s works are on bark using natural ochres although he did do a few works on paper.

Bobby Nganjmirra like most Oenpelli Bark painters painted on a Red ochre background. He was a prolific painter and painted a vast variety of subjects. His paintings of figures at ceremony are the most popular and collectible. These figures can be quite simple but are full of movement and life. Only in a few of his early works depict the genitals. In his later paintings, his figures are full of Rarrk crosshatching but lack some of his earlier sense of movement.

Bobby Nganjmirra was a respected leader with a deep knowledge of many traditional stories. That knowledge allowed him to paint a wide variety of subjects. These including Luma Luma, Yawk yawk sisters Nimbuwar rock Dreaming and Baby Dreaming.

His paintings of animals are superficially similar to  Lofty Bardayal Nadjamerrek and Dick Murrumurru but do not show quite the same sense of refinement.



He has painted at least two barks depicting skeletons. He also paints the sugar bag woman, Mimi figures and Hunting scenes. Animals include birds, barramundi, crocodiles, spiders, mosquitos, snakes, the rainbow serpent, and dugong.

Bobby Nganjmirra is sometimes spelled Bobby Ngainjmirra or Bobby Ngainjmira. He also used hist tribal name Barjaray or Bardjarai also spelt Bardjaray.

All images in this article are for educational purposes only.

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Western Arnhem land Artists and Artworks

Bobby Nganjmirra Bark Painting images

The following images is not a complete list of the artists works but gives a very good idea of his style and variety.

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