week 13


I have learnt allot over the past 13 weeks not only about indigenous art but also some of the history of our country that i was not awarer of prior to these studies. before starting this study i had a very superficial understanding of indigenous art thinking that there were only a few different styles, but my research has shown me the great diversity of art. Even when comparing the works from the different art centres you can see a pattern of distinct styles emerge but when you look at a range of work from a particular art centre the work is varied and this is one of the most interesting aspects of my studies. Where the artist comes from and what they are painting are the very important determining factors in the works aesthetic qualities in most cases. The studies i have undertaken have given me a greater understanding and appreciation for indigenous art.


week 12

Jock Mosquito

Jock was born on Nicholson Station bordering on desert country and situated over the Northern Territory border from Kununurra (East Kimberley) where Jock now lives. He spent his working life based at Nicholson, and worked as a stockmen.

He did not ever know his mother his father and grandmother raised him. He had the opportunity to go to Beagle Bay for schooling, but his father and grandmother did not wish him to go which he has regretted all his life. Jock has often commented “If I had spent more time in school than the stockcamp, I would be a lot better off”.

He and his wife have six boys and two girls and thirty-two grandchildren he says this with pride in his voice. He is a real family man and has been rewarded by his children who support their mother and father and form a tight-knit and caring family group.

His artworks are included in National Gallery of Australia and prominent private collections and Jock’s 2006 Solo Exhibition at Japingka Gallery was a sell out success.

Jocks work is very typical of that from the Warmun arts centre because the fact that the artist makes their paint from ochre and natural bonding agents means that certain distinctive colours are used and even the typographical style is very linked with Warmun although the work coming out of Warmun is varied there are elements that link it together.

Ochre has been the most important aspect of aboriginal painting throughout its long history. it is mined and is a hard but crumbly rock and gets its distinctive colour from iron oxide. The source material was traded extensively across Australia in the past, with some material traveling many hundreds or even thousands of kilometres from where it was mined to where it was used. It comes in a variety of colours from pale yellow to dark reddish-brown.

Ochre pigments
Ochres from western Arnhem Land

In the west Kimberley, the ancient gwion gwion images are painted in beautiful mulberry red on rock overhangs and caves. Gwion gwion is the name of a long-beaked bird which started as a spirit man - it pecks at the rock face to catch insects, and sometimes draws blood, leaving the images behind on the rock.

Paints are made by grinding the source rock to a powder and then mixing it with a fluid to bind it together. Traditionally this fluid could be saliva or blood, while in contemporary art an acrylic binder is more commonly used. The rich dark red in some of Jack Britten's paintings comes from the use of kangaroo blood mixed with ochre powder.

I think the fact that some indigenous artists still work with ochre based pigments give their work an authenticity of colour that other artists that work with modern acrylic paints that have a far more diverse pallet when it comes to colour. The use of ochre gives the work a look and feel that people associate with indigenous art from there prior knowledge of the colours used.


Week 11

  • Butcher Cherel

  • Region: The Kimberleys
  • State: Western Australia
  • Born: 1920c
  • Died: 2009
  • Art Centre: Mangkaja Arts Resource Agency

Subject & Themes

Afternoon rain, coolamon, warda, boab nuts, Paddock pocket, Dilly bag, bush plums, waterlilies

I found alot of examples of work by Butcher but all of his work was in black and white only. this makes his work very striking

Dennis Nona

Dennis Nona is widely acknowledged as one the most important Torres Strait Islander artists. Born on Badu Island in 1973 he was taught as a young boy the traditional craft of woodcarving. This skill has been developed and the artist now does work with linocuts, etchings and sculptures he has been working as an artist since 1989 The artist has a Diploma of Art from Cairns TAFE, a Diploma of Visual Arts in Printmaking from the Institution of Arts, Australian National University, Canberra and is currently completing a Master of Arts degree in Visual Arts at Queensland College of Art, Griffith University, Brisbane. Nona pioneered the development of the linocut prints unique to the Torres Strait Islands. He has documented, through a variety of forms, the ancient myths and legends of his island and the wider Torres Strait all of these stories had previously been passed on through storytelling as well as music and dance.

He is well known for telling multiple stories in his works. In this way he relates an entire narrative in one single work with all the characters and events in one image. Within Nona's work there is a celebration of island myths and legends, of how humans, animals, plants and landscape took their meaning from epic or magical events in the past. It was a culture where fighting was glorified and warriors were held in high esteem. Legendary heroes wore distinctive local headdress and masks. They played drums and used objects associated with their ritual ceremonies and dances. It was a culture of head hunters, cannibalism and raiding parties that attacked homes built in tree tops. It was a society where men, women, sorcerers and witches came to their final grief by being transformed into sea creatures or cast into the sea to become the islands and rocky outcrops evident throughout the Western Torres Strait Islands today. Curator of Australian Prints at the National Gallery of Australia, Roger Butler, says that Nona's work represents a trend by artists to explore the physicality of the print making process instead of just the instant art making of digital processes: He comments: "He (Nona) sits there with a lot of lino and with a very sharp little chisel and cuts out those incredibly detailed little lines and gouge marks... That's really taking it back to the processes of (German Renaissance artist) Albrecht Durer, a simple technique that makes VERY complex images."

Subject & Themes

Melanesian influence. Denis's linocuts, etchings and sculptures derive from his wood-carving experiences on Badu Island. He is inspired by coastal life, family, traditional medicines and the myths and legends of the Torres Strait.

Story: The sculpture depicts two species of Stingray, Guuwerr (the bronze stingray) and Tupmul (the aluminium stingray). While out fishing or diving the local people would see the stingrays leaping out of the water. This action of the stingray is an indicator of an imminent change in weather conditions. When observed during times of rough weather (Muturuka) it indicates a change to calm conditions. This would be a very important for a community that uses the water every day

The action of the stingrays represents a spiritual connection between these sea creatures and man. In the moment the stingrays are airborne and before the flop back to the surface of the water, islanders of a particular totem will instinctly utter the word, Gubaka. Traditionally, Gubaka was the preserve of the person of the Tupmul Augad (totem) who was one of several men representing other island totems who sat in the Kwod (the Western equivalent of a parliament). Tupmul is the artist's totem and is one of the main totems on his island of Badu. The two different metals used in the sculpture reflect the different colours of the two stingray species. Tupmul is pale white in colour while Guuwerr is a darkish brown. In creating the sculpture the artist has reflected on the synchronicity or affinity that exists between the sea creature and the man that possesses its totem.

I saw this sculpture when it was displayed at Tandanya it was a very striking piece and appealed to allot of the class in our subsequent discussion, it was interesting to get the story behind the totem and understand why the stingray is so important. It was also interesting to note that the different colours were from different species.


week 10

Freddie Timms

Was born at Police Hole around 1946, he grew up on stations and learnt all the skills he needed to work on stations which he did until the stock mans disputes in the 70's. in 1985 Bow river station was granted by the government to the Timms family. He started painting in the late 80's he looks a the land in a more topographical rather than mythological standpoint.

I really like these works they appeal to me. I think the large blocks of colour outlined with white dots makes them stand out more its a very interesting illusion when the colour is sounded by white dots and a thick black line.

Freddie Purla

was born in 1968 in Darwin. He is the son of artist Barbara Weir, and grandson of the late Minnie Pwerle, Freddie Purla began painting in 1989 at Alice Springs.

Purla regularly visited Utopia with his family as a very young child, often staying for long periods before travelling to Alice springs or Adelaide. One of his first vivid memories as a child was of the strange looking creature, the Scorpion.

The Scorpion Dreaming has been passed down to Freddie by his grandmother’s family. As it’s sting is often very painful, the scorpion is left undisturbed and respected at all times. It is rarely seen during the day and only the desert sands display the signs of the scorpion’s track.

Purla’s paintings represent the courtship dance between the male and female scorpion. Each scorpion interlock their pincers together while traveling back and forth in what can only be described as a dance. After several hours and as much as 24 hours, the tracks that are left behind create an artwork in itself on the ground. The tracks which are criss-crossed over and over again are rare to find in the desert. Freddie’s paintings powerfully represent the energy and vigour of the many movements made by the scorpions in their ritual desert dance.

I really like the work i've seen by Freddie. i think his work is different especially the first of these two pieces is very different from the rest of the aboriginal works that i have seen though my research. it is an abstract work. the colour and design are vibrant and the grey elements really add some contrast to the piece.

week 9

Anna Petyarre

is an Anmatyerre woman, born at Utopia in 1960, she paints beautifully painting based on the bush yam and yam seed dreaming. Anna Petyarre is renowned for her fine painting technique and for the care and pride she takes in her work, producing intricate and sensitive paintings that relate to the traditional culture of her Anmatyerre heritage.

On a personal note i think out of everything i have seen so far this is my favorite artist the work is beautiful but simple using only 2 colour black and white the contrast makes the design jump from the canvas.


week 8


lives in Yuendumu and is part of the Warlpiri clan, her farther and mother were also artists and they founded the "Warlukurangu Artists" in the 80's. Almas work centers around the night sky seven sisters dreaming and milky way dreaming.

I really like the colours used here and when you know that the paintings are depicting the night sky you can understand the colour choice they are very striking works

Abie Loy

was born in 1972 at the Utopia homelands, her ancestral country is Iylenty, also called Mosquito Bore. Abie began painting in 1994 alongside her grandmother Kathleen Petyarre.

Abie paints finely detailed brush hen dreaming which is a story from her grandfather.

i found a series of works by this artists like the bottom painting that i really liked they are not what i wouldd think of as traditionally aboriginal painting but they are very beautiful still uses a style similar to dot painting but maybe with a thick brush to create that effect


week 7

I decided to look at a couple other indigenous surfboard artists after seeing a story on Vernan Ah Kee i really liked his work where the boards looked like shields. i did find a few artists i dont think they used the shape of the board in the same interesting way as Vernon

Rob Appo

is a self taught artist he lives in tweed heads and enjoyed painting after a friend asked him to paint on of his boards, they both liked it and soon more people were asking rob to paint boards. he works with his cousins, Dean, Scotty and John Rotumah,

“Boards take between 2 to 3 weeks to paint, straight onto the foam blank.”
“I use an acrylic paint that needs to be watered down so the dots are not too thick.”
Robs says that thanks to the porous nature of the foam, it’s no easy medium to paint on, but he reckons he’s figured out a technique that really works well.

Clients have included people from all walks of life - surfers, tourists and even one for the didgeridoo-rocking band Max Judo.

“As far as I know all of my boards are hanging on peoples walls at home or office, which really makes them a cool piece of art, but it would be cool to have one of the Aussie pros surfing on one on the world tour,” Rob says.

Kevin williams

is a descendant of the Wakka Wakka aboriginal people. he is a lawyer and activist, but also an academic a film maker and a self taught artists.
As an activitist, Kevin was responsible for convincing the United Nations in 1998 that John Howard's "Native Title Amendment Act" was in breach of the UN Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination.

On a personal side note both these artists are self taught does this mean that their work has less meaning because it does not use the techniques and traditional designs passed down from generations? maybe its these artists that are working from what they have seen that are pushing aboriginal art to new places by using untraditional designs.