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Phyllis Thomas / Kangaroo Dreaming

120cm x 60cm Ochre on Canvas, 2008

SKU: 12773


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SKU: 12773 Category:

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

This country here is my country, near Rugan (Aboriginal name for Crocodile Hole, which was part of the mighty Bow River Station). In the Ngarrangkarni (Dreaming) there were two kangaroos – Jallangngenung, the blue kangaroo with short arms, and Jirrgan, a big red kangaroo with long arms. They were out together gathering Sugarbag, (wild honey) from all around these hills here. That red one was strong and greedy and because he had long arms he got most of the sugarbag and ate it all up. That blue one, well he was proper angry. The kangaroos started to fight and the big red one, well he won. The little blue kangaroo ran away and dropped his nulla nulla (fighting stick) behind him. This nulla nulla is now the tail of all kangaroos. The blue kangaroo decided to live in the mountain country where the big caves are so he could hide when he needed to, but the big red one lives in the flat country to the south, because he’s a cheeky one and doesn’t need to hide. I’ve painted the country at first light, looking so pretty before that hot sun comes up – that’s when the stockmen and us women used to start work – best time of the day.

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