William Mora Galleries

Phyllis Thomas Selection

Blue Tongue Lizard Dreaming
1999, natural ochres on linen, 122 x 135cm

Boab Trees and Owl
1999, natural ochres on linen, 122 x 135cm

Nawanji Gawarren
1999, natural ochres on linen, 122 x 135cm

Marranyji The Dingo at Rugun
2000, natural ochres on linen, 135 x 122cm

Biographical information

Phyllis Thomas is a Gija woman of Nakarra skin whose bush name, Booljoonngali, means "big rain coming down with lots of wind". She was born at a place called Riya on the Turner River, south east of the Bungle-Bungles. When young she worked on Turner Station looking after poultry, gardening, grinding salt and carting water from the well but often preferred to run away into the bush with the old women. She loved walking all over the country with her mother's mother and the other old women, hunting, collecting dingo scalps and looking for gold. She married Joe Thomas from Rukun, Crocodile Hole, and lived there for many years. She began painting when Freddie Timms set up the Jirrawun Aboriginal Arts group there.

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 where she was born, achieved almost immediate success. She was represented in the Telstra Art award exhibition in 1999 with a stunning picture Boornbem Goorlem, Hot Water Spring II done in black and a pinkish red colour made by mixing red and white ochre. The spring is in a gorge with the open sky shown as a plain expanse of paint above the water and rock faces. Other works include Bush Honey - 'Sugarbag' Dreaming at Dry Swamp in which the dark cells of the hives float on a plain ground, and Loomookool Blue Tongue Lizard Dreaming in which a prominent landscape feature is seen from the side.

Phyllis is also a singer and dancer with the Neminuwarlin Performance Group in its production of Fire, Fire Burning Bright at the Perth Festival and Melbourne Festival in 2002.


Phyllis's work has been included in group exhibitions in Melbourne and Darwin. Other exhibitions include:


Art Gallery of Western Australia, Perth; Parliament House Art Collection, Canberra; private collections around Australia


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