The Koskela Gallery has partnered with Warmun Arts to present this heritage exhibition of 8 artworks from the Jirrawun collection. The Indigenous-owned private art studio was notable as the base for a range of acclaimed senior Kimberley artists such as Phyllis Thomas, Paddy Bedford, Freddie Timms and Queenie McKenzie.
Phyllis Thomas is a senior Gija artist from Warmun, located in the East Kimberley region of Western Australia. These paintings are being offered for the first time since their creation at Jirrawun Arts, an important moment in time for the history of Indigenous contemporary art.
Popular with collectors ever since she started exhibiting works in 1998, Phyllis Thomas was born at Riya on the Turner River in Western Australia in 1933. Phyllis Thomas is a Gija woman of Nagarra skin whose bush name, Booljoonngali, means “big rain coming down with lots of wind”.
Phyllis paints the gemarre (body paint designs) in broad strokes. The fluidity of the line work is countered by the texture and rawness of the ochre pigment. The collection of works are physical and cultural embodiments of Giga country.
Phyllis began painting when Freddie Timms set up Jirrawun Arts at Crocodile Hole. Her work, depicting dreaming places and bush tucker from the Crocodile Hole area as well as the country around the middle reaches of the Ord and Turner rivers, achieved almost immediate success. She was represented in the National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Art Award exhibition in 1999 and 2000 (Highly Commended).
Phyllis’ work has been in high demand, acquired by the Museum of Contemporary Art (2016), the National Gallery of Victoria and exhibited at the Art Gallery of NSW (2016 – 2017).