Nyoongar people

Australia 1957 – 2009

On the Horizon of the Dreaming Boodja 2005 Place made: Perth, Western Australia, Australia
Materials & Technique: paintings, synthetic polymer paint on canvas

Dimensions: 153.0 h x 122.0 w cm
Acknowledgement: Gift of Roslynne Bracher, 2006
Accession No: NGA 2006.409
Image rights: © Shane Pickett
  • Painting, for Shane Pickett, always transported him back to his childhood days when, out hunting, he was taught to read the weather patterns and signs of the place, its changing moods and the subtleties of its hidden energies. Hunting was the occasion for re-telling the stories and language of the ancestors, as their movements were like a mirror to country. These were treasured times for Nyoongar families that, like Pickett’s, were torn apart and displaced by colonialism; and this reverie, along with the close knowledge of country, are fully evident in On the horizon of the Dreaming Boodja 2005.

    ‘Boodja’ is the Nyoongar word for country and, like a skilled hunter, Pickett is a very watchful observer of its moods and especially the Dreamings that animate its being. For many years Pickett painted ‘magic realist’ landscapes in the style of the Carrolup artists, the vibrant regional school of landscape art that developed in the heart of Nyoongar boodja in the mid-twentieth century, and which is often compared to the Namatjira school of landscape painting. Pickett’s abstract paintings, of which this work is a fine example, distill the patterns and energies of these earlier, more literal and often allegorical paintings to an essential feeling for the place. It is felt most sharply in the energies that converge along a few lines that bind as much as divide the space. They create a mystical presence that is nevertheless grounded in a hunter’s sensibility for the shifting breeze, changing light and varied patterns of country.

    Ian McLean

    Text © National Gallery of Australia, Canberra 2010
    From: Franchesca Cubillo and Wally Caruana (eds) Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Art: collection highlights National Gallery of Australia, Canberra, 2010