50fifty:2020 Southern Gallery2020-09-02T11:00:19+00:00


Ngamaru Bidu, Pitu, 2017

synthetic polymer paint on linen, 76 x 152cm.
Acquired with funds donated through Curtin Foundation, 50fifty Acquisition Initiative, 2018

Ngamaru Bidu paints Country in all its different seasonal stages. Important in Martu traditional lifestyle, is the practice of waru (fire burning); a practice that assists with hunting, regenerates growth, and encourages greater diversity in plant and animal life. Waru is typically burnt in small, controlled areas, leaving a defined patchwork pattern of nyurnma (burnt Country) in the land, across tali (sand hills), linyji (clay pans), parulyukurru (spinifex country) and pila (sandy plains). This patterning is clearly visible in Bidu’s works, where she paints fire from an aerial perspective. After burning, when the rain comes, young, bright green plants start to grow and the cyclic pattern of land management begins anew. With reference to this particular work, Pitu depicts an area east of Parnngurr in the Western Desert. Pitu is the artist’s home country. The artist’s surname ‘Bidu’ is a non-standard spelling of this placename.

Ngamaru Bidu was born circa 1950, Martilirri (Canning Stock Route), Western Australia. She is a respected senior Martumilli artist, and part of the pujiman generation of Martu people. Pujiman is a word that comes from the English ‘bushman’ and refers to the Martu people who lived traditional nomadic lifestyles in the Western Desert prior to contact with whitefellas in the 1960s. Following first contact, Martu people were moved into Missions (such as Jigalong) and worked in stations across the Pilbara. In the 1980s, in a move to reclaim their traditional land, a Back to Country movement was created. Three communities were established within Martu native title determination, including Punmu, Parnngurr and Kunawarritji. Martumili Artists service these communities, and much work is presently being done to preserve the knowledge of Country and Culture that is held by its elders, as the generation is now passing away.

Language group: Manyjilyjarra

Active: Parnngurr, Western Australia


Andrew Browne, Seven Apparitions, 2008

photopolymer photogravure, plate preparation by Silvi Glattauer; printed at Baldessin Press; editioned by Adrian Kellet, edition 4/12, 45.5 x 37 cm each (7 components). Donated  through the Australian Government’s Cultural Gifts Program by Alan R. Dodge AM, 2018

Over decades my work has explored the phenomena of light, a landscape alienated from the picturesque, and a nuanced painterly collision between the natural and the artificial. Based on direct observation and aided by the photographic form, my paintings abstract from the real, teasing out an emblematic and suggestive symbolism – whether close to the fidelity of the observed, or alternately gravitating toward an evocative non-objective. My work has been identified as “psychic landscapes of apprehension”, “cool” and “uncanny”, “eerie and spectral”, but I am primarily engaged with the psychological realm, including the happen chance and everyday, manipulated to conjure surreal, ambiguous yet resonant fictions. Recent works have continued an enduring interest in natural and artificial phenomena – the sum total of an accumulation of glimpses extracted from the observable landscape, their drama amplified by a reductive palette and nocturnal otherworldly light.[i]

 – Andrew Browne

Andrew Browne (b. 1960) is an Australian artist, based in Melbourne. Browne is a multidisciplinary artist working in painting, photography and graphic mediums including drawing, photogravure, intaglio and lithography. Since the 1980s Browne has developed imagery from both the natural and the man-made environment with a specific interest in investigating the phenomena of illumination, the poetics of the nocturne and the everyday, and a ‘landscape alienated from the picturesque.’

Andrew Browne has had over 35 solo exhibitions and has been included in over 100 group exhibitions. His work is held many public and private collections across Australia including the National Gallery of Australia, the National Gallery of Victoria, the Art Gallery of Western Australia, the Museum of Contemporary Art, Sydney, Edith Cowan University and Murdoch University Western Australia. In 2009 the British Museum in London acquired the suite of photopolymer photogravures Seven Apparitions as part of their ongoing collection of Australian prints and works on paper.




[i] Retrieved 21////2019 from: http://www.turnergalleries.com.au/artists/andrew_browne.php

Theo Costantino,
Daughter of Midas I, 2016

wax, glass, hair, fool’s gold leaf, and wood, 39 x 28 x 17cm. Donated by Theo Costantino, 2017

Daughter of Midas II, 2016

wax, glass, hair, fool’s gold leaf, and wood, 36.5 x 21 x 14.5cm. Donated by Theo Costantino, 2017

The sculptures of the Daughters of Midas series are fantastical responses to the mythologized history of European women in the Goldfields, narratives that tend to uncritically celebrate the role of women in the colonial project. It extends ideas explored in Costantino’s 2014 series Daughters of the Empire, but also links back to their 2010 exhibition Diseased Estate in which imagery of disease and parasitism was used to critique the subjectivity of the coloniser.

Theo Costantino’s practice includes drawing, sculpture, video, photography, written works and performance. They have exhibited and undertaken residency projects within Australia, Europe, the UK and USA both in a solo capacity and collaboratively. Broadly, Costantino’s work investigates the representation and memorialisation of the past: the use and abuse of history, the continuing influence of the past on the present, and the ways in which repressed or forgotten material can resurface in daily experience. They often explores the talismanic power of objects including photographs, which despite their ubiquity often have intense personal significance and are intimately tied to rites of memory.

Costantino holds a PhD from Curtin University and undergraduate degrees in Fine Art and Literary Studies. They received a 2015 Visual Arts and Craft Mid-Career Fellowship from the Western Australian Department of Culture and the Arts, the 2013 Hutchins Art Prize, a 2011 Qantas Foundation Encouragement of Australian Contemporary Art Award and the 2012 Artsource/Gunnery Artist Exchange. Their work is held in collections including Art Gallery of South Australia, Art Gallery of Western Australia, Cruthers Collection of Women’s Art, Murdoch University, City of Perth, and City of Joondalup.

Theo Costantino has written prose, libretti and dramatic text; their short story ‘Meniscus’ was published in Global Dystopias, a special issue of The Boston Review edited by Junot Díaz in 2017. In 2009 they wrote the musical theatre work Heart of Gold, which appeared at Perth Institute of Contemporary Art Performance Space and was produced by Hold Your Horses. They have also written critical texts including the book chapter ‘Ruination and Recollection: Plumbing the Colonial Archive’, which appeared in Visual Arts Practice and Affect: Place, Materiality, and Embodied Knowing, edited by Ann Schilo for Rowman & Littlefield in 2016.


Pippin Drysdale, Seedlings Sprout, 2018

glazed porcelain forms, measurements variable (11 components).
Donated through the Australian Government’s Cultural Gifts Program by Pippin Drysdale, 2020

Pippin Drysdale’s most recent ceramic forms, including Seedlings Sprout, are inspired by the striking rock formations in the Karlu Karlu / Devils Marbles Conservation Reserve, a significant Aboriginal sacred site in Australia’s central Northern Territory. The porcelain forms that constitute Drysdale’s installations engage with a fresh, comprehensive and daring colour palette that evokes surreal and ‘magical’ desert light effects.  This series also highlights Drysdale’s shift from displays of single pots to installations of groups of vessels.

The Devils Marbles site has been my influence with this new organic sculptural work . . . It has been an exploration of abstract ideas of spatial relations, line, texture and colour. The natural process of weathering and erosion has shaped, scarred and coloured the rocks, making them look like they are made of layers of skin, onion-like—or produced cracks so deep which have split them in half. The work references these different landforms across the desert valley, depicting the shadows and colours at different times of the day – Pippin Drysdale

Drysdale is widely considered one of Australia’s foremost ceramic artists and was formally recognised as one of Western Australia’s State Living Treasures in 2015.  Over a career spanning four decades, Drysdale has developed a significant international reputation for her distinctive vessels, drawing inspiration in recent decades from the ancient landscapes of Australia’s interior desert country. She regularly exhibits internationally and her work is held in major private and public collections across Australia and internationally. In the pursuit of excellence in her craft, Drysdale has worked alongside many revered and outstanding artists as well as travelled and studied extensively throughout the world. Drysdale has presented two major exhibitions with the John Curtin Gallery, Pippin Drysdale: Lines of Site in 2007 and Confluence with ceramicist Warrick Palmateer in 2018.


Abie Jumbyinmba Jangala, Ngapa (Water), 1996

synthetic polymer paint on linen, 121.5 x 91.5cm.
Donated through the Australian Government’s Cultural Gifts Program by Stephen Swift and Jo Lagerberg, 2018

Born at Thompson’s Rockhole in the Tanami Desert in 1919, Abie Jumbyinmba Jangala (aka Tjangala) was initiated in to Warlpiri Law and inherited his father’s responsibility for the essential Rainmaking and Water Dreamings of this vast and arid desert area, Kurlpurlurnu, NT. After his father’s death, he became the ceremonial boss of the Water, Rain, Cloud and Thunder Dreamings, the most senior ‘rain man’ in the northern Tanami region.

From the outset Jangala’s paintings were unique recreations of the iconography that pertained to Rainmaking ceremonies and the reverence in which Dreamings associated with the Rainbow Men are held amongst Warlpiri people. His early works were created on a black or deep phthalo green ground with the stark symbols specifically representing rainbows, lightning, clouds, waterholes and frogs, composed in much the same way as they are etched in relief on the body of rainmakers when covered in kapok or feather down for ceremony. Jangala typically painted these powerful symbols, which are also recreated in ceremonial ground constructions, in solid black or red, outlined in single alternate bands of bright yellow, green and red dots, thereby emboldening the icons to evoke the shimmering and alluring effect of the Rainbow Men and their dramatic manifestation as natural climatic phenomena. This allure is imitated by the glint from pieces of broken mirror or shiny belt buckles worn and carried by men in ceremony; and the glistening skin of women covered in animal fat and red ochre. Typically these paintings are in-filled with compact white dots representing rain or fields of hailstones. At the height of his artistic powers Jangala could apply these uniform white dots in such a way as to evoke the same meditative quality as that of the raked grounds of Zen meditation gardens. Jangala once explained that he painted, ‘the proper paintings… they are from my father. He comes to me in dreams and tells me what to paint, and how paint it’.

At the time of his death in 2002, despite his inability to paint, Jangala worked on etching plates, a number of which were editioned posthumously. One of these, in which the white dotted field was embossed, was part of the landmark Yilpinji-Love Magic portfolio, including prints by fifteen of the important senior Warlpiri and Kukatja artists in Lajamanu, Yuendumu and Balgo Hills. He was acclaimed during his lifetime as the greatest living Warlpiri painter.[i]

Language group: Warlpiri

Active: Lajamanu, Northern Territory

[i] All text retrieved 18/06/2018 from: https://www.cooeeart.com.au/marketplace/artists/profile/TjangalaAbie/

Nyurapayia Nampitjinpa, Kapi Tjukunpa (Water Dreaming), 2007

synthetic polymer paint on linen, 151.5 x 182cm.
Donated through the Australian Government’s Cultural Gifts Program by Helen and Ben Korman, 2018

Nyurapayia Nampitjinpa, also known as ‘Mrs. Bennett’, was born to the Pintubi tribe c1935 in Yumara, north of Docker River, Western Australia. Later, she moved to Kintore. She was the wife of John Bennett Tjapangati (c1930-2002), a Pintupi speaker from Mukulurruone and one of the original artists at Papunya in the 1970s. Nampitjinpa started painting in the early 1990s. Together with Naata Nungurrayi and other senior women from Haasts Bluff and Kintore, they were introduced to painting materials as a means to express and record their dreaming stories in a collaborative project on canvas in 1994. This resulted in an exhibition titled ‘Minyma Tjukurrpa’ and was held at the Tandanya National Aboriginal Cultural Institute in 1995.

Nampitjinpa lived in Kintore, but developed a free and original style in contrast to the artists working around her, who preferred the very precise dot-painting method. As a result, she would go on to become one of the most respected Papunya Tula women artists, known for this freer expressionistic style and strong use of bold and contrasting colour. Nampitjinpa painted her mother’s Dreamings, which were connected to sites at Yumarra, Wantjunga and Tjalilli rockholes around Docker River in Pitjantjatjara lands, in the western desert’s Walter James Range. She was deeply concerned with women’s culture, and her artworks often depicted women’s ceremonies and rituals; the gathering of traditional bush tucker such as Kampurarrpa (desert raisin) and Quandong and the rituals associated with their preparation in and around these remote Pangkupirri rock holes. This was her defining artistic landscape. Her powerful and dynamic sense of movement and strong line work, led Nampitjinpa to be known as one of the most remarkable and powerful female artists of the western desert region.

Nyurapayia Nampitjinpa’s work is included in the collections of: the National Gallery of Australia; The Art Gallery of NSW; Museum and Art Gallery of the Northern Territory; National Gallery of Victoria; Artbank and in corporate and private collections internationally. Nampitjinpa passed away in 2013 near her ancestral land of Punkilpirri. Her legacy as one of the most important Australian artists remains as a testament to her ground-breaking and dynamic style.

Language group: Pintupi/Pitjantjatjara

Active: Papunya, Northern Territory



Warrick Palmateer, Tidal Comb, 2018

West Australian kiln-fired earth, 105cm x 110 x 110cm.
Donated through the Australian Government’s Cultural Gifts Program by Warrick Palmateer, 2020

Clay is a simple, pure material, immediately responsive to the touch. It is transformative in its nature, changing from soft, malleable and plastic to hard durable and permanent once heat is applied. These magical properties have captivated me ever since being introduced to this form of alchemy when I was an art student at high school 35 years ago. The vessels exhibited at the John Curtin Gallery have been inspired by a landscape that is very special to me; the Western Australian coastline. The vessels were all hand thrown on a potter’s wheel and texture was expressively applied and colour intuitively rendered to suggest the rugged and fragile beauty of the Western Australian littoral zone – Warrick Palmateer, 2018

Warrick Palmateer was born in Melbourne, Victoria in 1969. He graduated with an Advanced Diploma in Studio Ceramics from Perth Technical College (now North Metropolitan TAFE) and completed a Bachelor of Fine Art Degree at Curtin University in 1999. This was followed by a Diploma of Education at Curtin University in 2003.

Tidal Comb is taken from Palmateer’s most recent body of work Meridian Arc series, produced exclusively for the John Curtin Gallery 2018 exhibition, Confluence. The Meridian Arc series is an assembly of vessels, gargantuan in scale and boldly visceral in their physical presence and material relationship to the artist’s coastal home north of Perth.  Working in partnership with a local industrial brick maker, Palmateer’s vessels are formed on such unprecedented scale, they required some of Australia’s largest brick kilns to fully realise the artist’s ambitions. Celebrating the liminal coastal spaces so inspiring to him, Palmateer’s work challenges one’s conceptions of the vessel through their sheer scale and ambitious technique.


Myrtle Pennington, Kanpala – At Kanpa, 2017

acrylic on linen, 137 x 90cm.
Acquired with funds donated through Curtin Foundation, 50fifty Acquisition Initiative, 2018

Myrtle Pennington is a senior Spinifex woman who was born in the Great Victoria Desert in 1935 and grew up with her small family group. Pennington was born at Kanpa (Kanpala), deep in Spinifex country and it is this place for which she has traditional custodial ties.

In the 1950s, during the British Nuclear testing program, Pennington and her small family group witnessed the ‘great black cloud’ and were forced to move further to the south west away from the ‘poison’. The country was also at the time in the grip of a drought and Pennington, like most of the Spinifex people, moved to Cundeelee Mission. Still living a mainly traditional life, but introduced to western food rations, Pennington first saw white people, put on clothes and saw the Trans-continental railway line to the south where many desert people had travelled for food rations.

Pennington is a highly knowledgeable desert woman who lives at Tjuntjuntjara, back in traditional Spinifex country. She has been an invaluable member of the Spinifex Arts Project since 1997, keenly participating in both collaborative works and solo works. She paints her ‘ngura’ (homelands).

Language group: Pitjantjatjara

Active: Tjuntjuntjara, Western Australia



Kathleen Petyarre, Mountain Devil Dreaming, c2001

acrylic on linen, 122 x 137cm.
Donated through the Australian Government’s Cultural Gifts Program by Helen and Ben Korman, 2018

Kathleen Petyarre (c1938 – 2018), birth name Kweyetwemp Petyarre, was born around three hundred kilometres north east of Alice Springs, an area known as Anmatyerre Country. She was one of the key Anmatyerre women involved in the successful claim for the freehold title that resulted in the handover of Utopia pastoral lease back to its traditional land owners in 1979. Petyarre was introduced to batik painting through community workshops, but quickly picked up painting with acrylics in the late 1980s at the advice of art advisor Rodney Gooch.

Petyarre’s Dreaming Ancestor is ‘Arnkerrth’, the Mountain or Thorny Devil. A colour changing small lizard with a shape resembling a dinosaur. Arnkerrth is believed to have created the home of the Eastern Anmatyerre people by moving each grain of sand, grain by gran, since the dawn of time. Petyarre, like her clanswomen, believed that they are its descendants, and have therefore inherited the responsibility for caring and nurturing the vast landscape that she depicted so intimately and carefully in her paintings. This deep connection to country and culture is revealed in the layering of fine dots, like grains of sand, seen in Mountain Devil Dreaming, c2001.

Petyarre is one of Australia most sought after Indigenous artists. She has won numerous awards including the 1996 Telstra National Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Art Awards (NATSIAA), and has frequently been amongst the Top 50 Collectable Artists as noted in Art Collector Magazine. Her work has been included in numerous group exhibitions including recently at the International Women’s Day exhibition (Kate Owen Gallery, Sydney, 2019), the Golden Age of Utopia (Aboriginal Signature Estrangin Gallery, Brussels, 2017), solo exhibitions in the United States of America, Tokyo, Switzerland and throughout Australia.

Language group: Alyawarr/Eastern Anmatyerre

Active: Utopia, Northern Territory


Shane Pickett, Six Seasons Suite, 2005

Munguroo, Bunuroo, Kambarang, Biroc, Wanyarang, Djilba

etching with aquatint on archival paper, edition 43/50, 49.5 x 33.5cm each.
Donated through the Australian Government’s Cultural Gifts Program by Dan and Diane Mossenson, 2017







Living with dependence on the weathercycle, the Nyoongar people had to master and understand every aspect of the local weather pattern; they had to be nomadic and travel long distances for food and water. At times a season might be cold and rainy so that hunting became difficult, or be dry and hot so waiting by a water hole for thirsting animals was easier than hunting and running long distances for little return. There is a season of thunder where the sky is full of lightning, and a season where the bloom of wildflowers somehow brings peace and contentment to mankind, where animals and even the floral blooms seem to celebrate. The seasons are Muguroo, Djilba, Kambarang, Biroc, Bunuroo, and Wanyarang. They represent fertility, conception, birth, infancy, youth and adulthood.

Ceremonies punctuate the seasons, which continue in their cycle, year on year. The people practice ceremonies to teach new generations, children and initiates to respect and live with the six seasons. The cultural knowledge was handed down to me by my parents, uncles and aunts. For me personally to carry this knowledge and to pass it down to the next generation is very important for today and for tomorrow. This set of prints is a valued asset that allows one to be able to journey through these seasons and begin to understand how the Nyoongar people survived in a nomadic lifestyle for thousands of years. – Shane Pickett, 2006

Six Seasons was produced at the prestigious Northern Editions printmaking workshop, Darwin NT.

Born in Quairading (Ballardong Country) in the south-west of Western Australia, Shane Pickett (1957-2010) was one of the foremost Nyungar artists of his generation. Combining his deep knowledge and concern for Nyungar culture with a confident and individual style of gestural abstraction, Pickett’s paintings resonated with a profound but subtle immediacy. Balancing innovation with tradition, modernity with an ancient spirituality, they were complex visual metaphors for the persistence of Nyungar culture against the colonising tide of modernity.

Pickett was selected as a finalist in numerous major art prizes including the Telstra National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Art Award, and in 2006, he was awarded first prize at the Sunshine Coast Art Prize and Joondalup Invitation Art Award. In 2007, he was awarded first prize in the Inaugural Drawing Together Art Award. He has exhibited in every state and territory in Australia, as well as in the United States, Europe, Africa and Asia. His works are held in major private and public collections throughout Australia and internationally.

Language group: Nyungar

Active: Western Australia


Carol Rudyard, Emergence, 1973

acrylic on canvas, 61.2 x 38.2 cm.
Donated by Brian Blanchflower, 2018

Carol Rudyard (b.1922) is one of Western Australia’s leading and most senior artists. Born in England, Carol and her husband relocated to Western Australia in 1950. Most widely known as a ground breaking audio/video installation artist, Carol Rudyard’s early painting practice investigated hard edge abstract colour field paintings.

At this time Rudyard produced a vibrant suite of abstract colour field paintings and screen prints influenced by hard edge abstractionists in the United States and United Kingdom. Rudyard experimented for some time with different styles and methods of paint application, coming to large-scale canvases in which layered acrylic hues take on a revelatory force. In these works, colour edges are set against each other to produce a combination of reverberative optical effects.[i] – State Living Treasure booklet, 2004

Rudyard enrolled in an Associate Diploma in Art at the West Australian Institute of Technology (now Curtin University) from 1968-1970. She won the Mundaring Art Prize in 1970, and began teaching at the West Australian Institute of Technology in 1971. Rudyard travelled to Europe in 1972 and held her first solo exhibition in 1973. After completing a Postgraduate Diploma in Visual Art at WAIT in 1981, she began to experiment with audio visual mediums such as video installation, which became a large part of her practice. In 1991 Rudyard received a Creative Fellowship from the Australia Council for the Arts. Rudyard was awarded an Honorary Doctor of Letters from Curtin University in 1999, and made a Living Treasure of the State of Western Australia in 2004. Rudyard was the subject of major survey exhibition at the Lawrence Wilson Art Gallery in 1993. Her work is held in public collections throughout Australia.


[i] Retrieved 16/09/2016 from: https://www.dca.wa.gov.au/Documents/Resources/Living%20Treasures/State%20Living%20Treasures%202004.pdf

Helen Smith, Blue Highway #29, 2016

oil on canvas, 138 x 213.5cm.
Acquired with funds donated through Curtin Foundation, 50fifty Acquisition Initiative, 2018

Helen Smith’s practice is influenced by a formal, minimalist view-point with simplicity of form and geometric abstraction generally contributing to the outcome. Oil on canvas paintings, large-scale wall works and a number of ongoing photographic series derived from an interest in social and cultural systems form the basis of her enquiry. Her practice also takes form in murals, and photographic documentation. Blue Highway #29 is part of a series of works that investigate the artist’s interest in the font of the same name Blue Highway by Ray Larabie in 1996. The font was inspired by the highway sign lettering in the United States and Canada. Smith has said she was attracted to this lettering for two reasons, ‘firstly, the simple, even form and secondly, the name.[i]

Born in Cooma, New South Wales, Smith has recently relocated from Perth to Sydney. She graduated from Curtin University with a Bachelor of Arts (Honours) in 2000 and is founding member of the Australian Centre for Concrete Art (AC4CA) which formed in 2002. Smith has exhibited extensively within Australia and internationally since 2001 and her work is held in many national and international collections including National Gallery of Australia, Art Gallery of Western Australia, Daimler Collections (Berlin), Artbank, University of WA and Murdoch University.



[i] Helen Smith, interviewed by Jenepher Duncan for WA Focus, Art Gallery of Western Australia. Retreived 24/07/2020 from: https://scoop.com.au/perth-wa/guides/arts-events/perth/events/listing/blue-highway-paintings-by-helen-smith/

Christian Thompson, Subconscious Whispers, 2018

C- Type print on Fuji Pearl metallic paper, edition 4/4, 119 x 119cm each (4 components).
Acquired with funds donated through Curtin Foundation, 50fifty Acquisition Initiative, 2019

Dr Christian Thompson AO (born 1978) is a leading contemporary Australian artist whose work explores notions of identity, cultural hybridity and history. In many of Thompson’s works, he engages with the process of auto-ethnography. Merging a nuanced dream world and his autobiography, he draws out images that connect his own personal experience to wider social, political and cultural meanings and understandings. His work focuses on the exploration of identity, sexuality, gender, race and memory. In his live performances and conceptual portraits he inhabits a range of personas achieved through handcrafted costumes & carefully orchestrated poses & backdrops.

In 2010 Thompson made history when he became the first Aboriginal Australian to be admitted into the University of Oxford in its 900-year history. He is currently a research affiliate at the Pitt Rivers Museum, University of Oxford. Thompson holds a Doctorate of Philosophy (Fine Art), Trinity College, University of Oxford, United Kingdom, Master of Theatre, Amsterdam School of Arts, Das Arts, The Netherlands, Masters of Fine Art (Sculpture) RMIT University and Honours (Sculpture) RMIT University, Melbourne, Australia and a Bachelor of Fine Art from the University of Southern Queensland, Australia. He has exhibited widely both nationally and internationally and his works are held in major international and national collections. In 2018 he was awarded an Officer of the Order of Australia for distinguished service to the visual arts as a sculptor, photographer, video and performance artist, and as a role model for young Indigenous artists.

Language group: Bidjara

Active: Queensland / Victoria



Freddie Timms, Baxter’s Gap, 1996

ochre on canvas, 91.2 x 121.5cm.
Donated through the Australian Government’s Cultural Gifts Program by Stephen Swift and Jo Lagerberg, 2018

Freddie Timms (c.1946 – 2017) was born at Police Hole, Bedford Downs in the East Kimberley region. He was inspired by the knowledge and techniques that he learned from living and working alongside the other stockmen and artists such as Jack Britten, Hector Tjandany, Henry Wambini, the late Rover Thomas and his own father-in-law, George Mung, who, with Paddy Jampinji, were the finest of the earlier Warmun / Turkey Creek painters.

Timms based his painted portrayals of his country on actual topographical features instead of exploring ancestral mythological themes, choosing instead to focus on the landscape’s history and evolution since colonisation. Many of Timms’ paintings are stories of exploitation, alcohol and violence. He often seeks to impart his political views through his paintings. Painting with sparseness, he often used just a limited palette of ochre and oxide pigmented colours. Rich colours capture the essence of the land: black soil, red and sandy earth, and water holes, layered with historical and spiritual themes of dreaming places.

Beginning his artistic career in 1989, Timms exhibited in several shows at William Mora Galleries, throughout Australia and overseas. His work is represented in major collections throughout Australia and has been shown in galleries in Germany, Tokyo, Chicago, Paris, Auckland and Miami. Collections include National Gallery of Australia, Canberra; Art Gallery of Western Australia; Art Gallery of South Australia; Art Gallery of New South Wales; National Gallery of Victoria and the Aboriginal Art Museum, Utrecht, The Netherlands.

Language group: Gija

Active: Warmun, Western Australia




George Tjungurrayi, Tingari, 2016

acrylic on linen, 62.5 x 299.5cm.
Donated through the Australian Government’s Cultural Gifts Program by Helen and Ben Korman, 2018

In late 1984, Walala Tjapaltjarri (born c1960) and several other members of the Pintupi Tribe walked out of the remote wilderness of the Gibson Desert in Western Australia and made contact for the first time with European society. Described as ‘The Lost Tribe’, he and his family created international headlines. Until that day in 1984, Tjapaltjarri and his family lived the traditional and nomadic life of a hunter-gatherer society. Their intimate knowledge of the land, its flora and fauna and waterholes allowed them to survive as their ancestors had for thousands of years.

Tjapaltjarri was introduced to painting in 1997 by his brother, Warlimpirrnga, and both brothers went on to earn international acclaim for their artwork. Tjapaltjarri’s first paintings were in a classical Tingari style usually reserved for body painting, ground painting and the decoration of traditional artefacts. However, his style evolved, and he began abstracting the classical Pintupi designs, creating a strongly gestural and highly graphic language to speak of his country and ceremonial sites. The rectangles so prominent in his paintings represent both a physical and spiritual map, and established Tjapaltjarri as a discerning draughtsman for his ancient country.[i]

Walala Tjapaltjarri paints the Tingari Cycle (a series of sacred and secret mythological song cycles) which are associated with the artist’s many dreaming sites – they include Wilkinkarra, Maruwa, Tarrku, Njami and Yarrawangu, among others. These Dreamings are the locations of significant rockholes, sandhills, sacred mountains and water soakages in the Gibson Desert.  Tjapaltjarri has gained worldwide recognition, participating in several national and international solo and group exhibitions. His paintings are represented in private and public collections in Australia, Europe and the USA.

Language group: Pintupi

Active: Kintore, Northern Territory



[i] Retrieved 24/07/2020 from: https://www.kateowengallery.com/artists/Wal90/Walala-Tjapaltjarri.htm

Aida Tomescu, Ultraviolet, 2009

oil on linen, 183 x 147cm.
Donated through the Australian Government’s Cultural Gifts Program by Aida Tomescu, 2018

My interest has always been to arrive at a unified image with fullness and clarity, to find a reality which affirms its own existence. There is a silent moment in painting when we experience an absolute, total intelligence in the work through which everything comes together. The logic that develops is stronger than any emotion. The painting begins to project back and I become aware of another presence; the subtle, vulnerable structure built from paint – Aida Tomescu, 2015

 Aida Tomescu is one of Australia’s most important painters. Born in Bucharest, Romania in 1955, Tomescu has been living and working in Sydney since 1980. She studied at the Institute of Arts, Bucharest, and was awarded a Diploma of Visual Arts in 1977. Shortly after her arrival to Australia she completed a postgraduate degree at the City Art Institute (now College of Fine Arts, University of New South Wales) in 1983.

Tomescu has exhibited regularly since 1978 having held over thirty solo shows to date and participated in national and international exhibitions and events. She has been the recipient of the Sulman, Wynne and Dobell prizes and had a major survey of her paintings at the Drill Hall Gallery, Australian National University, Canberra, in 2009. Tomescu is represented in major art museums, regional galleries, and university and corporate collections within Australia and internationally including: National Gallery of Australia; National Gallery of Victoria; Art Gallery of New South Wales; Art Gallery of South Australia; Queensland Art Gallery & Museum of Modern Art; Heide Museum of Modern Art; Auckland Art Gallery, New Zealand; and the British Museum, London.



Angela Valamanesh, Outside / Inside #A, 2008

unglazed ceramic forms, 55 x 155 x 5.5cm (10 components).
Acquired with funds donated through Curtin Foundation, 50fifty Acquisition Initiative, 2018

My recent works consist of simple forms that often make links between plant, human and animal. I am interested in imagery that is ambiguous, that has a certain familiarity to but is not completely or easily recognisable – Angela Valamanesh

Angela Valamanesh is one of Australia’s most intriguing ceramic artists. Informed by imagery that stems from the natural world, her works are populated by animal, vegetable and mineral as well as microbes, bacteria, pathogens and spores. Her art is aesthetically minimal and cunningly simple, allowing us to interpret universal and ever-perplexing human, animal and organic forms. Valamanesh re-immerses us in the primeval rawness of form and function and, in doing so, the artist succeeds in visualising what many of her contemporaries have avoided – the symbiosis between art and science. Primarily known for her biomorphic ceramic sculptures, Valamanesh’s practice is informed by extensive research, including numerous residencies within Australia and overseas. For several years her artworks have been created from unglazed ceramic, focussing on forms based on anatomical and botanical drawings made with the aid of early microscopes.

Angela Valamanesh was born in Port Pirie, South Australia, in 1953. She attended the South Australian School of Art, completing a Diploma in Design in 1977, Masters of Visual Arts in 1993 and was awarded a PhD from the University of South Australia in 2012. Angela has won several awards over the years and her artworks can be found in significant collections in Australia including the National Gallery of Australia, Art Gallery of South Australia and Artbank. Valamanesh is currently the subject of a major touring survey exhibition as part of the Jam Factory’s ‘Icon’ series.