Pike Family Artists Exhibition at Japingka Gallery

A long association between Japingka Gallery and the family of Jimmy Pike is celebrated with an exhibition of works by Jimmy and his brother Edgar Pike, and Francine Steele, Jimmy’s niece. The exhibition features paintings, silkscreen prints, etchings and silk scarves. Jimmy Pike’s first drawings and limited edition prints were made in Fremantle in the early 1980s, while Edgar and Francine work in the small Kimberley community of Ngumpan. Together their story covers the journey of their clan from the Great Sandy Desert north to the cattle station country of the Fitzroy Valley.

Jimmy Pike (1940–2002) became one of Australia’s best known Aboriginal artists from the 1980s as a result of artwork that he created in Fremantle when he was a prisoner within the walls of old Fremantle gaol. Japingka Gallery has maintained a 30 year long association with the family of Jimmy Pike, and the gallery was named after a desert site that was the meeting place for Jimmy Pike’s clan.

Jimmy Pike was a great story teller and illustrator of the traditional lifestyle that he experienced as a young man living with his family in the Great Sandy Desert. Later they moved to the cattle station country of the Fitzroy Valley. Jimmy Pike was a prolific drawer using multi-coloured felt pens, painter, printmaker, designer for textiles and silk goods - his stories of the desert became everyday items in the wider Australian cities.

Jimmy Pike Larripuka Sandhills Jap 010347

At the time of Jimmy Pike’s passing in 2002 his brother Edgar Pike had began painting at his small community home at Ngumpan. Edgar was about 5 years younger than Jimmy, and said that he remembered fewer stories of his family life in the desert. But the great oral tradition of the desert life was compelling, and the people had begun making journeys back into the old country, revisiting the sacred sites and major waterholes. Edgar Pike’s paintings recorded some of the major sites that his brother had painted previously.

Edgar Pike’s daughter Francine Steele developed into a skilled artist in her own right and although early in her career, her paintings are distinctive and impressive. This exhibition is the first occasion where the works of the three family members have been shown together.

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