Lawrence Wilson Art Gallery

Little Paintings, Big Stories: Gossip Songs of Western Arnhem Land

Further Information

Visitor information

Media Release


For more information contact the Lawrence Wilson Art Gallery:

Gallery opening Hours

Tuesday - Saturday 11am - 5pm.

Image of bark painting artwork by Gwadbad

Drawn from the Berndt Museum Collection, this exhibition explores the inter-relationship between the people, country and stories of Goulburn Island, Northern Territory, as they were in the past and as they are now.

Featured artwork: Bark painting by Gwadbad No. 2 i.e. 'John', Maung language. RM Berndt Collection, 3rd October 1947, [WU1236]

Exhibition period

29 June - 14 December 2013

Exhibition details

Little Paintings, Big Stories showcases bark paintings, photographs and sound recordings from the collection that convey the richness of djurrbilk or gossip songs.

The subject matter of these songs is diverse and thoroughly intriguing. Djurrbilk stories use human characters in the guise of animals. The stories are sometimes based on actual events that have happened in the community, but the use of animals obscures the original characters and their actions, protecting their identity and saving embarrassment.

The djurrbilk stories are amusing, and the songs through which these stories are told, are amazing. Aboriginal music will never be quite the same.

Exhibition partner

The Lawrence Wilson Art Gallery, based at the University of Western Australia invites various schools and faculties to partner with on exhibitions and develop innovative academic and public programs. The Campus Partner for Little Paintings, Big Stories is the UWA Graduate School of Education.

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Berndt Museum Family Focus Day: Storytelling across cultures

George Winnunuj playing didgeridoo and john gwadbu singing and playing clap-sticks
Saturday 6 July 2013, 1pm - 4pm at the Lawrence Wilson Art Gallery

Storytelling takes on many different forms and is a universal activity throughout different cultures. Come and explore various kinds of storytelling with an afternoon of talks, performances and activities hosted by the Berndt Museum in association with the current exhibition Little Paintings, Big Stories: Gossip Songs of Western Arnhem Land.


  • Location: Lawrence Wilson Art Gallery, The University of Western Australia, 35 Stirling Highway, Crawley
  • When: Saturday 6 July 2013 | 1pm
  • Cost: FREE event.
  • Enquiries: (08) 6488 3707 or [email protected]
  • More information: Visit the Berndt Museum Public Program webpage

This event is part of the WINTERarts series in conjunction with the Perth Winter Arts Season. Visit the UWA WINTERarts program for the full listing of events. 

Image detail: George Winnunuj playing didgeridoo and John Gwadbu singing and playing clap-sticks. Goulburn Island, Northwest Arnhem Land, NT. Photographer by R.M. Berndt, 1961. [P36925]

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Last updated:
Wednesday, 5 August, 2015 10:18 AM