Billy Thomasc1920 - 2012 Waarlla - Great Sandy Desert south west of Balgo Hills 2001
- ochre on canvas
Billy Thomas was born near Kulyayi (Well 42). His remarkable career includes working as a police tracker, a traditional healer, a stockman, and ultimately a renowned artist. He met Rover Thomas as a young man working cattle at Well 39 on the Canning Stock Route and they would go on to settle in the Kimberley, and find fame together late in life as 'East Kimberley' artists. Earlier Billy had worked as a police tracker, a traditional healer and a stockman ” and had 12 children.
Waarlla is a place on the Great Sandy Desert south west of Balgo Hills. It is a very significant and sacred site that was critical to the survival of people in the early days. The artist describes the country as 'flat like an airport'. It contains hundreds of rock holes, many of which are sacred burial places. If travelling through this area, you really should go 'right round'. When the big rains come, the flat expanse becomes a lake and as the water recedes, the rock holes are renewed with fresh water.
Source: Kevin Kelly, Red Rock Art 2001