See what's on at the

Browse What's On

– Highlights


Aleks Danko

30 Jul - 18 Oct


Matthys Gerber

22 Sep - 06 Dec


Primavera 2015

22 Sep - 06 Dec

Create and Learn at the

All Learning Programs

– Learning Events


Exchange Series

12 Nov, 11.00am, Creative Studios National Centre for Creative Learning


Educator Exclusive

26 Nov, 5.30pm, Creative Studios National Centre for Creative Learning



06 Dec, 6.00pm, Throughout the MCA

Find out more about the

About the MCA

– News from inside the MCA

Taloi Havini: Primavera artist and ARTBAR curator

Primavera 2015 artist and MCA ARTBAR curator Taloi Havini talks ‘Shell Money’, pina coladas and memories of Bougainville. more

We laughed, we cried, we danced, we barked…

Teachers from across NSW gathered at the MCA and Sydney Opera House for two days of creative dialogue and exchange as part of the 2015 Engaging Students with Disability forum. more

If these walls could talk | #AleksDanko

Ha-ha-ha-ha. Learn the meaning behind artist Aleks Danko’s Laughing Wall.... more

View the Collection

Browse Collection

– Spotlights from the collection online

Volume One: MCA Collection

Works from the MCA Collection on display

Remain in Light: Photography from the MCA Collections

On tour until October 2015


Watch our latest artist interview with Khaled Sabsabi

John Mawurndjul

Nawarramulmul (Shooting star spirit) (1988)

Museum of Contemporary Art, purchased with funds donated by Mr and Mrs Jim Bain, 1989

ochres and synthetic polymer on bark

H 219.4 W 95 D 8.5cm

About the Artwork

John Mawurndjul’s art is concerned with themes of spirituality, ancestral landscapes and the cycle of life. Nawarramulmul (Shooting star spirit) depicts a spirit figure that appears like a star in the sky. According to Mawurndjul, “Nawarramulmul doesn’t have a social category, but it is a dangerous spirit being. It is dangerous … It might take an hour to come and shine its light. It burns brightly, shimmering like a star and then it finishes.”

Nawarramulmul (Shooting star spirit) was painted at a time of extraordinary development and innovation for the artist, when he was redefining traditional artforms and working with great fluidity, expression and scale. Mawurndjul is considered one of the most experimental artists working in Arnhem Land, whose style continues to evolve; he uses rarrk or crosshatching, a technique of painting where fine lines and areas of colour appear to glow from the surface of the bark.

Nawarramulmul (Shooting star spirit) is one of two large bark paintings by John Mawurndjul in the MCA Collection exhibited in the landmark exhibition Magiciens de la Terre at the Centre Pompidou and the Grande Halle de la Villette in Paris, France in 1989. This show sought to undo the Eurocentrism of contemporary art by exhibiting artists from western and non-western backgrounds alongside one another.

It might take an hour to come and shine its light. It burns brightly, shimmering like a star and then it finishes

John Mawurndjul, 2015

John Mawurndjul

– About the artist


John Mawurndjul was born in 1952 near Mumeka, Mann River, Central Arnhem Land, Northern Territory. A member of the Kuninjku people of Western Arnhem Land, he lives and works at Milmilngkan and Maningrida, Central Arnhem Land, Northern Territory.

Learn more
– Other works by the artist

– View also


Related Exhibitions

In the Shop