Ochre Painters of the Kimberley
Artists like Rover Thomas, Freddie Timms and Jack Britten typify the style of ochre painting that is closely identified with the Kimberley region. Based on a close knowledge of the country and the stories that have taken place on that country, the paintings become inclusive of the whole experience of Aboriginal life in this part of Australia. Aboriginal culture includes oral traditions of knowledge and storytelling, which the ochre artists have embedded in their images of country that wrap up the whole identity of the local people.
The ready availability of natural ochres in the environment link the modern paintings created on canvas to the ancient traditions of body painting for ceremonies and rock painting for sacred sites. The Kimberley has some of the great prehistoric art sites of the world, located on rock chambers along the western and northern regions of the Kimberley. The combination of art and ceremony is carried on with the dance boards, painted in ochre and used by performers in ritual re-enactments of the creation stories and legends.
Younger artists have taken on the task of re-telling the stories in paintings created with natural ochre pigments, and artists like Charlene Carrington, Marcia Purdie and June Peters present many small and compelling paintings in this tradition. Senior women artists from the group include Mabel Juli, Shirley Purdie, Nancy Nodea, Phyllis Thomas and Nora Nagarra.
The exhibition ‘Ochre Painters of the Kimberley’ will present over 45 paintings and will be on display at Japingka Gallery during February and March 2016.