c. 1945 2006
Joe Lewis was born on Coolibah Station via Timber Creek in the Northern Territory c. 1945 and was of the Jaminjung language group. When he was a young child his family moved to Bradshaw Station which was part of their traditional country. Joe grew up on Bradshaw Station and was a Traditional Custodian of the surrounding region. His family taught him the culture that earned him the honour of respected Lawman, and his many friends and former bosses will fondly remember him as the much sort after stockman, horse breaker and rodeo rider he became.
His repertoire of stations where he worked is endless and include the best Victoria River Downs, Mt. Sanford, Texas Downs, Alice Downs, Legune, Argyle, Newry – and he remembered all the Managers and station identities. During the season, he was a rider at the Katherine Rodeo and competed in bareback, bronco and bull riding.
Because of his deep knowledge of the land and traditions of his country in the Northern Territory, Joe was involved with the Kimberley Land Council and Northern and Central Land Councils, as well as travelling to his home country for Men’s Law every year.
He spent the latter part of his life in Kununurra with his wife, Eva Karadada, a member of the famous artistic family of which Lily Karadada is matriarch and an Internationally renowned painter of the Wandjina rock Art of Kalumburu and Mitchell Plateau area.
Joe commenced painting in 1994. The content of Joe’s paintings centred around Men’s Law, his home country at Bradshaw, and were depicted in bold, swirling strokes obviously painted by a strong man.
“The old people told me the stories about them paintings” he said “My father and my grandfather, they used to tell me that story in the painting I do the story, and I still remember.”