Gija people

Australia 1912 – 1996

Jilyili at Kurnkukurnku [The "Paddy Jaminji" Collection, No 5 in the series of 11 paintings] 1984 Description: The "Paddy Jaminji" Collection, No 5 in the series of 11 paintings: Tjilyili
Place made: Warmun (Turkey Creek), Kimberley, Western Australia, Australia
Materials & Technique: paintings, natural earth pigments and binders on plywood

Dimensions: 90.0 h x 180.0 w cm
Acknowledgement: Purchased 1984
Accession No: NGA 84.3031.5
Image rights: © the artist's estate courtesy Warmun Art Centre
  • It was art created by Paddy Jaminji (Jampijin) that first drew the attention of the art world to the East Kimberley. These works were produced in the Warmun community (at Turkey Creek), in the context of the Kurirr Kurirr ceremonial cycle. Along with a number of other artists, Paddy had painted a series of boards that referred to sites visited along a spirit journey across the Kimberley undertaken by Rover Thomas’s aunt after her unfortunate death in an accident.

    Jilyili at Kurnkukurnku 1984 is one such board. Kurnkukurnku or ‘Goanna Fat’ refers to a hill near Mount House Station in the central Kimberley. Yilimpirri was an ancestral Goanna who, in the Dreaming, travelled along the King Leopold Ranges and left his ‘fat’ as a hill. In her journey, Rover Thomas’s aunt stops to contemplate this important site.

    As a pioneer of the Turkey Creek school of painting, Jaminji did not use acrylics but restricted himself to the traditional palette and to themes either related to the Kurirr Kurirr or to his own specific country. His work is consistent in quality and his paintings are both textured and bold in execution.

    Apart from producing art for ceremonial contexts, Jaminji only began painting regularly in about 1980, but as his eyesight was already failing he only produced a limited body of work. Stricken with trachoma, Jaminji was blind by 1987. Although his artistic career was brief, Paddy Jaminji played a crucial role in establishing the credentials of East Kimberley art.

    Kim Akerman

    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