Born c. 1939, Barney Ellaga is a senior custodian and law-man of the Alawa community, which is situated on the upper reaches of the Cox and Arnold rivers, south of the Roper River and west of the Gulf of Carpentaria. The country is called Minyerri, Southern Arnhem Land.

His works have an indelible connection with the Dreamings related to his country, and for several sacred sites he is the Jungai (guardian), having total control over the entry by non-countrymen and maintaining the Tradition and heritage of these areas.

Barney’s works are distinctive, with brilliant colour combinations and individual brushstroke style, instantly recognisable. The artists of his area, the Ngukurr community on Roper River, have gained International recognition, led by the success of the late Ginger Riley Munduwalawala as well as renowned painters Gertie Huddleston and her sister Angelina George. The amazing depictions of the landscapes of their country in fabulously modern colours and abstract imaging stand out as desirable and collectable.

The central theme in many of Barney’s works is the traditional men’s body paint designs used for ceremonies as well as the King Brown (snake) Dreaming, which is the story of the earth creation and is an important part of Barney’s country and heritage.

Barney’s work has been widely exhibited since 1989, with many paintings going into prominent museums and public collections, including the acquisition of nine works by the National Gallery of Australia, Canberra.

Selected Exhibitions

1989
• Utopia & Ngukurr, Alcaston House Gallery, Melbourne

1991
• Alcaston House Gallery, Melbourne

1992
• Tandanya Aboriginal River Calendar, South Australia
• Gulf Country, Christine Abrahams Gallery, Melbourne
• Ngundungunya Artists, Hogarth Gallery, Sydney

1993
• Alcaston House Gallery, Melbourne

1994
• Gallerie Australis, Adelaide
• Alcaston House Gallery, Melbourne
• Australian Heritage Commission Art Award and Exhibition, Canberra

1995
• 12th National Aboriginal Art Award, Museum and Art Gallery of the Northern Territory, Darwin
• Hogarth Gallery, Sydney

1996
• All About Art, Alcaston House Gallery, Melbourne

1997
• Ngundungunya, Art for Everyone, National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne
• Bent Strit – Art of South East Arnhem Land, Alcaston House Gallery, Melbourne

1998
• Recent Acquisitions, National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne

1999
• Alawa Country, Alcaston Gallery, Melbourne

2001
• Sprituality and Australian Aboriginal Art, Department of Culture, Madrid, Spain

2002
• Mia Mia Gallery, Melbourne
• The Contemporaries, Contemporary Artspace, Brisbane

2003
• Bush Gardens of Roper River, Japingka Gallery, Fremantle

2004
• “Two Senior Men”, Waterhole Aboriginal Art, Sofitel Wentworth, Sydney

2005
• Waterhole Aboriginal Art, Danks Street, Sydney

Selected Collections

• Kerry Stokes Collection, Perth
• Laverty Collection, Sydney
• Macquarie Bank Collection, Sydney
• National Aboriginal Cultural Institute Inc., SA
• National Gallery of Australia, Canberra
• National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne
• Northern Land Council Native Title Collection, Darwin
• R.H. & A. Myer Collection, Melbourne