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Dale Hunter / Rain Cave and the Water Dragon

38cm x 37cm Acrylic on Tasmanian Blackwood

SKU: DH-21


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SKU: DH-21 Category: Brand: . Artist:

In Dale’s words: I am an identified aborigine who was born in Melbourne Victoria in 1959. My family are from the Wiradjuri mob in NSW. I would like to acknowledge that my art respects the power of the ancestral beings, expresses individual and group identity, and the relationship between people and the land.

Dale Hunter who was born in Victoria in 1959, her family are from the Wiradjuri mob in NSW and she currently lives in Tasmania. Dale has a Fine Art Degree from the University of Tasmania, she also has a teaching degree as well as a Graduate Certificate in TESOL. She currently works as a school teacher at Cape Barren Island Aboriginal School.

Dale says that painting the Aboriginal image on Tasmanian Blackwood creates a cultural connection with our mother the earth. The Blackwood manifests a hologram effect transcending time and place. Representational paintings of the indigenous body is the fundamental theme in her work.

Dale’s husband mills the timber from their 350 acre property near St Helens in Tasmania. He resurrects dead Blackwood trees and turns them into a truly beautiful sculptural piece. After using acrylics to paint the wood, each piece is then varnished several times to enhance the natural grain of the Blackwood. Forged metal hangers are created individually for each unique and collectable piece of art.

The Blackwood, which has absorbed the passing of time, actively participates in the transmission of myths and symbolism. Dale’s artwork moves away from traditional dot painting.

• Fine Art Degree from the University of Tasmania. Major Art Theory – Aboriginal Art Practice and Culture
• Bachelor of Teaching, Deakin University
• Graduate Certificate Teaching English Second Other Language (TESOL), University of Wollongong
• Currently employed at St Helens District High School as a teacher

• Solo exhibition University Tasmania Plimsoll Gallery, 2005
• Assistant to Gloria Petyarre and Barbara Weir Art Mob, 2006
• Exhibitor Tasmania Art Fair 2001, 2002, 2003
• Private art teacher 10 years St Helens 2000-2010


I would like to acknowledge that my art respects the power of the ancestral beings, expresses individual and group identity, and the relationship between people and the land.

‘The Rain Cave’ painting relates to aborigines believing that the goanna spirit – Dirawong – would help them in times of drought.

This mythical creature or goanna –Dirawong – was also the creator of the Bundjalung Nation of aborigines. The Bundajlung’s traded with the Wiradjuri Nation of aborigines from where my family came from. Aborigines would walk for many kilometres to exchange products with neighbouring friendly nations. They also were invited to participate in sacred ceremonies, one of which was The Rain Cave ceremony.

Ceremonies performed in the rain cave evoked the unseen spirit of the Dirawong which would appear to assist the aborigines to manifest water. The Australian Dirawong – water dragon – is the second largest dragon in the world, they can grow up to four meters in length. These big goannas are excellent swimmers, in Aboriginal mythology they were a predator to the Rainbow Snake who would sneak up on unsuspecting aborigines in their camps and eat them.

A crucial factor in aboriginal culture is the transmission of myths and symbolism. The colour red upon which the Dirawong clings, is our connection to country and the golden swirls represent water, a rich resource upon which we all depend. The aborigine evokes his ancestral beings by adorning his face with a white marking. His waistband and arm/leg band connects him to his mother the earth.

This painting is branded with the number 21 on the back and signed by the artist.

Blackwood in Aboriginal Culture ~ Blackwood Acacia melanoxylon

The fine hard wood of this wattle made strong spear-throwers, boomerangs, clubs and shields in parts of Tasmania and Victoria. Aborigines used to soak the bark in water to bathe painful joints. A powerful analgesic can also be derived from the Blackwood tree. The hard wood was also used to make shields and woomeras, whilst the inner bark was used to make string. The tree’s twigs and its bark were also used to stupefy fish as a way of fishing. Leaves and branches were often placed in fishing areas thus stunning the fish and making then a very easy catch.

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