William Mora Galleries

Rusty Peters Selection

Grandfather's Father's Country
2002, natural ochres on linen, 122 x 135 cm

Grandfather's Father's Country
2002, natural ochres on linen, 80 x 100 cm

Frog and Willy Wag Tail
2002, natural ochres on linen, 80 x 100 cm

Goanna and Crocodile Story
1999, natural ochres on linen, 122 x 135 cm

Biographical information

Rusty Peters is a senior Gija man of Juwurru skin. His bush name Dirrji refers to dingo pups looking out of a hole at the sunrise. He was born under a Warlagarri or Supplejack tree on Springvale Station south west of Turkey Creek, the same day as his jimarri or age mate Charlie McAdam. His spirit came from a crocodile his father had killed when his mother became pregnant. He grew up on Springvale learning traditional law and working as a stockman and at other things such as welding fences and stock yards. When his father was killed in a tragic riding accident at Roses Yard, the family moved to Mabel Downs where he became renowned as a horse breaker. He lived for some time at Nine Mile reserve at Wyndham after the introduction of award wages forced people off stations but then moved to Turkey Creek where with other senior Gija artists, such as Hector Jandany and George Mung-Mung, he helped start the school. As part of the Gija cultural program, he took groups of boys out bush, showed them how to make spears and hunt and to make a camp without matches or blankets in the traditional way. He also worked in the Gija language maintenance program.

In 1989 he moved to Kununurra where he was employed at Waringarri Aboriginal Arts as an assistant. He was a long time friend of Rover Thomas, caring for him on most of the trips he made in the later part of his life. He made prints and did some painting while working for Waringarri Arts. He moved to Crocodile Hole when Freddie Timms based the Jirrawun Aboriginal Arts group there in 1997 and began to paint on large canvases. His detailed knowledge of the land and stories from Springvale and neighbouring Moolabulla stations is reflected in distinctive paintings in traditional red and yellow ochres and black charcoal. While recognisably part of the 'Turkey Creek' style the intricate curves mapping the country and the dark caves and rivers in the pictures are particular to Peters' work.

In early 2000 he collaborated with Peter Adsett, a white artist from the Northern Territory University. Each artist completed seven canvases taking turns to paint in response to each other. These paintings were shown at a joint exhibition "Two Laws, One Big Spirit" at 24Hour Art, Darwin in September 2000. This acclaimed exhibition is touring Australia during 2002.


Rusty has had two solo exhibitions with William Mora Galleries, and one with GrantPirrie in Sydney. His work has been included in group exhibitions in Melbourne, Sydney, Perth and Darwin. Other exhibitions include:


Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney; private collections around Australia

Selected bibliography

McADAM, Charlie and family as told to Elizabeth Tregenza, Boundary Lines, McPhee Gribble, Ringwood, 1995

Rusty Peters Kimberley Stories, ex cat, William Mora Galleries, Melbourne, 1999

Two Big Laws. . .One Big Spirit, ex cat, 24 Hr Art, Darwin, 2000


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