Rover Thomas1926 - 1998 Tomato Creek and Ord River 1984
- natural pigment and gum on board
Rover Thomas was born in about 1926 at Gunawaggi, Well 33 on the Canning Stock Route in the Great Sandy Desert of Western Australia. A Kukatja/Wangkajunga speaker, he belonged to the Joolama subsection or skin group.
He lived in the bush with his family until his mother died when he was about 10 years old. After being initiated into traditional law as a young man while living on cattle stations in the Kimberley, he eventually worked as a jackaroo and stockman.
Shortly after moving to Warmun early in 1975, Thomas found or was given the ceremony of the Gurirr Gurirr (Kril Kril), the performance of which required the painting of ceremonial boards with which participants of the ceremony danced. Together with his uncle, the artist Paddy Jaminji, Rover painted many of these works on boards.
These early works eventually gave way to the flowering of a dynamic and culturally rich contemporary art movement in the East Kimberley which has been celebrated both in Australia and internationally.
Tomato Creek and Ord River documents the site of a massacre of Aboriginal people on Ord River Station in the 1920s. It is one a series of works called the 'Killing Times' produced by Thomas to document massacre sites and stories as passed down through oral history.
© Rover Thomas/Copyright Agency, 2018