Phyllis was born at Turner River (Kartang Rija) and grew up in the beautiful Purnululu region in the East Kimberley, which is now World Heritage listed. Her mother was Kitja skin and her father Jaru (desert-way). Phyllis worked around the station, doing yard duties and assisting with the domestic animals. Whilst in Wyndham, she met her husband, Joe Thomas, a stockman. She accompanied him to Springvale, then Mabel Downs Stations. Joe worked at Bow River Station alongside the late Timmy Timms for Sam and Maggie Lilly, and much later when the Government granted the station to the Timms Family, Joe was granted an excision, and developed Rugan Community (Crocodile Hole).
Joe was instrumental in setting up a school on his Community, and Phyllis taught the children culture – carving, painting and dancing. Eventually the school was closed and the children attended the larger school at nearby Warmun Community.
Phyllis is a highly collectable First Generation Ochre Artist whose works are held in the very best Private and Corporate Collections, including Parliament House. She is an established Senior Kimberley Ochre Artist, paints and exhibits with the highest profile Ochre Artists of the East Kimberley, and with her art centre at Warmun. Her works are traditional, she is a respected Law Woman in the Region and depicts her country and the Dreaming Stories in natural ochre medium.
– Womens Business, Sherman Galleries, Sydney
– East Kimberley Exhibition, Japingka Gallery, Perth
– New Work from Warmun, Gadfly Gallery, Perth
– A Selection of Contemporary Art, Martin Browne Fine Art, Sydney. Other artists featured included Emily Kngwarreye and Paddy Bedford
– Blood on the Spinifex, Ian Potter Museum of Art, Melbourne
– 17th National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Art Awards, Museum and Art Gallery of the NT
– Parliament House Collection, Canberra
– Art Gallery of Western Australia
– Private and corporate collections throughout Australia and Overseas