Durrmu Arts Aboriginal Corporation is renowned for its fine, contemporary art production, including acrylic painting and fibre work. Senior artist Regina Pilawuk Wilson (winner, General Painting, Telstra National Indigenous Art Award 2003) leads a team of talented emerging and established artists including Dianne Hodgson, Kathleen Korda, Margaret Kundu, Miriam Byrnes, Rosina Tirak, Annunciata Wilson, Anastasia Wilson, Anne-Carmel Wilson and Malcolm Wilson.
Durrmu Arts Aboriginal Corporation was registered under the Corporations (Aboriginal and Torres-Strait Islander) Act 2006, in 2011. Prior to that, Durrmu Arts was part of the Peppimenarti Association.
Durrmu Arts is a member of the Indigenous Art Code and ANKAAA – the Association of Northern, Kimberley and Arnhem Aboriginal Artists.
The paintings of Peppimenarti are based upon traditional weaving and durrmu (dot body painting) designs. These are complemented by the women artists’ premium pandanus and sand-palm fibre weaving work. The women of Peppimenarti are traditionally weavers and have transposed their knowledge of fibre and textiles onto the canvas. The results are paintings of intricate, abstract mark-making; some clearly representing syaw (fishnet) and wupun (basket weaving) through their layered textures, whilst others resemble fine tapestries. The mens' art lies in the production of body paint designs and cultural articles. Many of the male artists paint their inherited didgeridu designs.
In 2000 Regina Wilson and Theresa Lemon represented the Peppimenarti Community at the Contemporary Art Biennale staged as part of the Pacific Arts Festival in Noumea. And in 2003, Regina Wilson was named the winner of the General Painting category of the Telstra National Aboriginal and Torres-Strait Islander Art Award, drawing further attention to the artistic output of this vibrant community. More recently, Regina was chosen as a finalist in the 2008 Wynne prize at the Art Gallery of NSW.
As Patrick Hutchings and Heng Wei stated in Australian Art Review, 2003, ‘Something new and important is happening at Peppimenarti. It’s something else – twice over. It’s not about narrative, but spear-dots and weaving; however it’s also about a beauty abstracted from handicraft. It no longer maps a songline, but sings a new song.’
Peppimenarti was founded in the mid 70s as a permanent settlement for the Ngan’gikurrunggurr people. ‘Peppi’ translates as rock and ‘menarti’ as large, referring to the rock formation that overlooks the community. At its base is a wide stream and a series of pools which is a significant, sacred site. The community is located 300km south west of Darwin and 100km from the Daly River crossing.
In the early 70s, the independent Aboriginal organization Unia campaigned for the establishment of a cattle station within the Daly River Aboriginal Reserve, and as a result a 2000sq. km. pastoral lease was granted, and later consolidated by the Land Rights (Northern Territory) Act in 1976. Harold Wilson, a prominent member of Unia, was instrumental in the community’s establishment. Wilson was born in Peppimenarti country, and after being removed from his family and sent to government institutions as a child, he decided to return there as an adult with his wife Regina and family, to set up a permanent settlement. He later became the President of the Peppimenarti Association and used his Aboriginal and European heritage to negotiate the ‘translation of Aboriginal needs into European contexts while preserving authentic Aboriginal voices in the decision making process’ (Robin Hodgson).
Since its establishment, Peppimenarti has been viewed as a success story on the Daly River and beyond. Today, the community has a population of approximately 200 people.