Garry Djorlom Dob: 1963 Tribe: Kunwinjku Region: Western Arnhem Land Community: Gunbalanya [Oenpelli] Outstation: Gumarrirnbang, Marrkolidjban Language: Kunwinjku Social Affiliation: Dhuwa moiety, Nabangardi subsection
Garry is the son of Dudley Djorlom, a traditional bark painter who taught his son to paint on rock and on bark. He had a very good schooling in his youth, and took his promised wife, Doreen, when she was still in her early teens. He was born on 20.12.63. As the son of a ceremonial leader he learnt the traditional way of life, and is an excellent hunter and food gatherer. He has appeared in several documentaries depicting both his talent as an artist, a dancer, and a hunter in the old way, using four-pronged fishing spears, and digging sticks for yams.
Garry has achieved fame as a master painter on bark and on Arches Rives paper. He lives at a remote outstation called Gumarrirnbang, in the Stone Country between Oenpelli and Ramingining. This homeland centre is owned by an old man called Timothy Nadjowh who was a great artist but is now too old to paint. He is worried that without sons to carry on recording the history and religion of his tribe the stories will be lost forever. He has therefore decided to gradually pass on his myths to Garry whom he considers to be a man of stature and worthy of keeping them safe.
Garry has painted "Dit the Moon Man", the first story Timothy has given to him, and it was entered in the 1998 National Indigenous Heritage Art Awards held in Canberra in April, this painting went on to receive a highly commended award. He has also had exhibitions in Perth and Melbourne.
In return for Timothy's trust in him Garry keeps the immediate surroundings spotlessly clean and looks after the machinery associated with water reticulation and tractor work, as well as maintaining the small airstrip so that the community is assured of medical assistance and supplies of food during the Wet Season when raging rivers cut transport by road.
In spite of all this activity Garry still concentrates on his painting in every spare moment, rising at dawn and working until dark, although he often finds it impossible to meet all of the demands of collectors who appreciate his works depicting animals, birds, and the Ancestral Beings of the Dreamtime. It is only a matter of time before Garry becomes world famous. John Kluge, the wealthy collector who is building an art gallery purely for Australian Aboriginal works in Virginia, U.S.A., bought several of Garry's paintings which have been illustrated in the book entitled: "Kunwinjku Art, the John W. Kluge Commission".