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Phyllis Thomas / Rainmaker Birds (1A)

60cm x 90cm Ochre on Canvas, 2014

SKU: 16939

$1,850.00

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Artlandish Gallery will be closed from 10th – 25th October. All orders during this time will be dispatched from the 28th October.

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c. 1938 – 2018 

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 was an established Senior Kimberley Ochre Artist who painted and exhibited with the highest profile Ochre Artists of the East Kimberley, and with her art centre at Warmun. Her works are traditional, she was a respected Law Woman in the Region and depicted her country and the Dreaming Stories in natural ochre medium.

Phyllis passed away peacefully in late 2018. She was a strong leader, an incredible artist and a wonderful lady, who will be sorely missed by all that knew her.

SELECTED EXHIBITIONS

2008
– Recent Etchings 2005 – 2008, Northern Editions, Darwin. Other artists featured were Paddy Bedford (dec), Rammey Ramsey, Freddie Timms and Rusty Peters
– Jirrawun Women: Peggy Patrick, Goody Barrett and Phyllis Thomas, Grant Pirrie, Sydney

2007
– All Around Texas – Phyllis Thomas, Churchill Cann and Charlene Carrington, Japingka Gallery, Perth
– From The Ground Up, Ochre Work From The Kimberley, Chapman Gallery, Canberra
– Greetings From Turkey Creek, Mary Place Gallery, Sydney
– Back to the Board, Japingka Gallery, Perth

2006
– Womens Business, Sherman Galleries, Sydney
– East Kimberley Exhibition, Japingka Gallery, Perth

2005
– New Work from Warmun, Gadfly Gallery, Perth

2004
– A Selection of Contemporary Art, Martin Browne Fine Art, Sydney. Other artists featured included Emily Kngwarreye and Paddy Bedford

2002/03
– Blood on the Spinifex, Ian Potter Museum of Art, Melbourne

2000
– 17th National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Art Awards, Museum and Art Gallery of the NT

SELECTED COLLECTIONS
– Parliament House Collection, Canberra
– Art Gallery of Western Australia
– Private and corporate collections throughout Australia and Overseas

 

Phyllis has painted an area of the East Kimberley to the northeast of the Bow River Station. This she says is a very special place. The Bow River and its tributaries run through this area and join the mighty Ord River. Painted from an aerial perspective, Phyllis says in this particular area, the first rains are heralded by the call of the Rainmaker Birds which inhabit the area. In the old days, people would come here to see whether (and when) the Wet season in the Kimberley would arrive. Until “those birds start calling out, especially as the sun is going down, there won’t be any rain for a while – but when you hear them, they never never make a mistake. Better than those machines that tell us about the weather now”.

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