In this iteration of the series Masters of Aboriginal Contemporary Art Burrinja presents Rover, turning the focus on one of Australia’s most celebrated, recognised and original Indigenous artists. Born in 1929 to Kukatja/Wangkajunka parents near Well 33 on the remote Canning Stock Route in Western Australia, Rover Thomas Joolama worked as a stockman on various cattle stations until 1975.
A dream was catalyst for depicting the modern Krill Krill song cycle that he introduced to his mother’s brother Paddy Jaminji and others at Warmun (Turkey Creek). It recounted stories and associated sites in the East Kimberley, told on wooden dance boards and painted with natural ochres.
Together with urban Aboriginal artist Trevor Nickolls he was the first Aboriginal artist to represent Australia at the Venice Biennale in 1990. His seamless amalgamation of figurative and abstract styles to depict topographical features and at times horrific historical events has been an outstanding characteristic of his art.