Made in Ochre - Kimberley Artists
Long prized for its ceremonial significance and continually used to replenish images on sacred sites over the centuries, ochre remains the defining art material for many Kimberley artists. This exhibition presents some of the greats of the Kimberley ochre tradition, artists working across distant settlements including Warmun, Kalumburu, Derby and Kununurra.
The style of ochre painters from the East Kimberley is highly recognisable. It is typified by a flat planar perspective that employs large blocks of colour to represent aspects of the landscape. These can be outlined with rows of white dots, in the way ceremonial body paintings use white dots to embellish and outline the designs. The late Freddie Timms created strong paintings based on the country he knew as a stockman, showing the different types of country and landforms. His minimal blocks of colour are classic examples of the style that was perfected by Rover Thomas and Paddy Bedford.
Sometimes the paintings include images of hills and rocks as seen from a side-on perspective, given particular reference to a location. This is common with the well-known images of the Bungle Bungle ranges by artists like Jack Britten and Nora Nagarra. Queenie McKenzie also used the silhouette profiles of the landscape embedded in flat blocks of colour to create a sense of movement between the prominent locations seen in the painting.
Artists from the West Kimberley often refer to the great rock art traditions of the Wandjina and Gwion Gwion spirits. These remarkable images are found widely around the West Kimberley and are amongst the oldest human artforms found anywhere in the world. Images are seen in the works of Lily Karadada, Jack Dale Mengenen, Regina Karadada and Mercy Fredericks.