c. 1921 22nd July 2002
Jack was born Alice Downs Station and commenced stockwork at an early age. He worked on many stations in the East Kimberley, and as a drover to many parts of Australia, including the Canning Stock Route to Alice Springs and east to Central Queensland. He had an incredible recall and enjoyed talking about his working days he could remember the name of every station owner (all good men, them) and all the characters from the early settler days. He had a great sense of humour, and his story telling was nothing short of riveting.
A Senior Kitja Lawman, Jack began painting after his stockwork, with Paddy Jampinji, George Mung Mung and Rover Thomas. He recalled being given a piece of canvas and the difficulty of painting in hot weather, as the canvas shrunk and buckled when the ochre was applied. He and the original Ochre artists decided to stretch these unwieldy canvases onto plywood. Today, Aboriginal artists refer to stretched canvas as painting boards. Jack told of using the natural bush gums and kangaroo blood as binders for the ochre, of Rover chewing grass to colour and bulk up the ochre if it was poor quality.
Because of his detailed knowledge of the land and the Ngarrangkarni (Dreaming) stories of his culture, Jack was able to depict accurately a myriad of subject matter in his painting career and this he was, right up until his passing, very willing to teach to the younger generations of his people. He was heard to say many times that the Aboriginal culture would be preserved by the dancing, singing and the stories of the paintings.
Jack formed the Wurreranginy (Frog Hollow) Community south of Turkey Creek, and painted there for many years with his long time friends Henry Wambini and Beerbee Mungnari. He relocated to Turkey Creek in 2001 but was always referred to as The old man from Frog Hollow. He was Traditional Custodian of Purnululu, the subject matter of many of his paintings, as well as the station country closest to him Hann Springs, Tickelara, Mabel Downs, Lissadell, Texas Downs.
Since the late 1980’s, Jack exhibited Australia-wide, including Crossroads Towards a new Reality, Aboriginal Art from Australia, Tokyo 1992, Images of Power National Gallery of Victoria 1993. 1992 saw him win the prestigious Museums and Art Galleries Award and the National Aboriginal Art Award. His work is included Australia wide and Internationally in the best private and corporate collections, including Artbank, Sydney; Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney; Art Gallery of Western Australia, Perth, Gifu Museum Japan.
Jack was included in Australia’s Top 50 Most Collectable Artists 2004.
Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney
Art Gallery of Western Australia, Perth
Gifu Museum, Japan
Museum and Art Gallery of the Northern Territory, Darwin
National Gallery of Australia, Canberra
National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne
The Holmes a Court Collection, Perth
The Kelton Foundation, Santa Monica, U.S.A.
Aboriginal Art from the Kimberley, Goolarabooloo Gallery, Broome
Art of the East Kimberley, Birrukmarri Gallery, Perth
ANCAAA and Boomalli, Boomalli Aboriginal Artists Co-operative, Sydney
Aboriginal Art from the East Kimberley, NSW Craft Council Gallery, Sydney
Turkey Creek Recent Work, Deutscher Gertrude Street, Melbourne
7th National Aboriginal Art Award Exhibition, Museum & Art Gallery of NT, Darwin
Crossroads Towards a New Reality, Aboriginal Art from Australia, National Museums of Modern Art, Kyoto and Tokyo
Broome Fringe Festival, Broome
9th National Aboriginal Art Award Exhibition, Museum & Art Gallery of NT, Darwin
Images of Power, Aboriginal Art of the Kimberley, National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne
Australian Heritage Commission National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Art Award Exhibition, Old Parliament House, Canberra
Power of the Land, Masterpieces of Aboriginal Art, National Gallery of Victoria
13th National Aboriginal Art Award Exhibition, Museum & Art Gallery of NT, Darwin
Imaging the Land, National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne
Images in Ochre, Cooee Aboriginal Art Gallery, Sydney
Aboriginal Artists of Western Australia, [n.d.] [folios of works and biographies], Aboriginal Education Resources Unit, W. Australia.
Australian Art Collector, issue 7 1999 Caruana, W., 1993, Aboriginal Art, Thames and Hudson, London. (C)
Dixon, R.A., & Dillon, M.C., 1990, Aborigines and Diamond Mining: The Politics of Resource Development in the East Kimberley Western Australia, University of Western Australia Press, Nedlands, Western Australia.
1988, ANCAAA and Boomalli, exhib. cat., Boomalli Aboriginal Artists Ko-operative, Sydney. (C)
McCulloch, A., & McCulloch, S., 1994, The Encyclopaedia of Australian Art, Allen & Unwin Pty Ltd, St Leonards, New South Wales.
McCulloch S, Contemporary Aboriginal Art: a guide to the rebirth of an ancient culture Allen & Unwin 1999
Ryan, J., 1993, Images of Power, Aboriginal Art of the Kimberley, exhib, cat., National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne.
Smoker, J., 1989, Turkey Creek Recent Work, exhib. cat., Deutscher Gertrude Street, Melbourne.