The Marika family of Arnhem Land could be called the Boyds of the indigenous art world.

Like the Boyd dynasty, they’ve contributed an intergenerational opus of work to the Australian cultural landscape.

But the Marika clan are not just artists – they’ve been referred to as cultural diplomats.

Their activism also spans generations; they’ve been heavily involved in environmentalism and were pivotal to some of the earliest land rights campaigns.

“Even at that early stage they understood the importance of cultural brokerage, because their paintings were a way of establishing their perspective in a changing world,” said Margie West, the Emeritus Curator of Aboriginal Art at the Museum and Art Gallery of the Northern Territory.

“They’ve always been very aware of how art can actually be used to negotiate a space for them in a new society.”

Now the paintings, sculptures and songs that tell their story have been collated into a new show at the National Museum in Canberra.

It’s called Yalangbara, which refers to a sacred site in Arnhem Land.