Paddy JAMINJIRover THOMAS [JOOLAMA], The Dreaming Kangaroo at Nine Mile, near Wyndham Enlarge 1 /1

Paddy JAMINJI

Gija people

Australia 1912 – 1996

Rover THOMAS [JOOLAMA]

Kukatja/Wangkajunga peoples

Australia 1926 /1928 – 1998

The Dreaming Kangaroo at Nine Mile, near Wyndham [No 8 in the series of ten paintings of The Krilkril Ceremony] 1983 Place made: Warmun (Turkey Creek), Kimberley, Western Australia, Australia
Materials & Technique: paintings, natural earth pigments and binders on composition board

Dimensions: 120.0 h x 60.0 w cm
Acknowledgement: Purchased 1984
Accession No: NGA 84.3030.8
Subject: Australia, Animal: Kangaroo
Image rights: © the artist's estate, courtesy Warmun Art Centre

Paddy Jaminji was born and has lived most of his life on Bedford Downs Station in the Kimberley. Like many of his countrymen, as a teenager and an adult he worked as a stockman at Bedford Downs, and later at the old Lissadell Station.

Rover Thomas (Joolama) spent most of his life working as a stockman in the eastern Kimberley in the north of Western Australia. He began painting on a regular basis in 1981, and within a decade his vigorous and prolific creativity led to his selection as one of the first two Indigenous artists to represent Australia at the Venice Biennale, in 1990.

In the mid 1980s the Aboriginal community of Warmun, adjacent to Turkey Creek, was the first in the East Kimberley to be recognised as a distinctive artistic region, widening non-Indigenous perspectives of Indigenous art, which had been preoccupied with the Arnhem Land and the Western Desert art traditions.

Jaminji worked closely with his colleague Thomas on the Kurirr Kurirr dance-drama. Although receiver of the ceremony, Thomas painted this board in collaboration with his mother’s brother, Paddy Jaminji.


Text © National Gallery of Australia, Canberra 2010
From: Ron Radford (ed), Collection highlights: National Gallery of Australia, National Gallery of Australia, Canberra, 2008

Paddy Jaminji was born on Bedford Downs Station in the East Kimberley, where he worked as a stockman. Rover Thomas also spent most of his life working as a stockman in the Kimberley region. Jaminji moved to Warmun (Turkey Creek) with his family in the early 1970s. Thomas and his family moved there in 1975.

By the mid 1980s the art of the Aboriginal community at Warmun came to be recognised as a distinctive East Kimberley style—broadening non-Indigenous perspectives of Indigenous art that had been preoccupied with Western Desert painting and the Arnhem Land bark tradition.

The Dreaming Kangaroo at Nine Mile, near Wyndham depicts an ancestral kangaroo as a painting on a rock face. Against a background plane of red-brown, fine white dots define forms that are blocked in black. The upper torso of an engorged kangaroo faces the top of the board, limp forearms by its side. Above and below are elements of landscape, or distant trees.

This is one from a series of 10 paintings related to the Kurirr Kurirr ceremony—a response to the destruction of Darwin by Cyclone Tracy—that Thomas painted in collaboration with Jaminji, his mother’s brother. The Kurirr Kurirr narrative was revealed to Thomas in dreams, where the spirit of his classificatory mother (a Gija/Wula speaker) recounted her travels after death—which occurred following a road accident near Warmun just before the cyclone struck Darwin. Her spirit travelled over sacred and historic sites—as sung by Thomas: Tarruru waya pulmani waya pirri nangku pirri (They go to Nine Mile, near Wyndham. They see the Dreaming Kangaroo. They make a song about it).


Text © National Gallery of Australia, Canberra 2014
From: Collection highlights: National Gallery of Australia, National Gallery of Australia, Canberra, 2014