JGM Gallery and Juan Bolivar introduce the London based artist, Barbara Nicholls, who contributes a significant body of recent work, alongside three notable Indigenous Australian artists from the North Kimberley. Barbara spent many months in Australia for an artists’ residency in 2016 at the Mungo World Heritage site in NSW. Here she experienced the harsh Australian landscape and the magical cultural traditions in the art of Indigenous Australians.
Barbara Nicholls’ work concerns water and colour. It is also water Freddie Timms and Rammey Ramsey paint in the identification of important water holes in their country – the waterholes that have dominated human survival in this environment.
I first met the artists Freddie Timms, and Rammey Ramsey along with Paddy Bedford in Kununurra a decade ago when they lived together in a typical weatherboard house in the back suburban streets of Kununurra. The front verandah was facing a large red rock or monolith, a landmark of the town and the type of huge red rock that generally dominates the landscape of the north Kimberley region of Western Australia.
Tony Oliver was managing the small art centre known as Jirrawun in this rather run down house, and the artists were painting in the back yard. On that visit I was treated to a superb lunch prepared by Francis Kofod’s son, a trained chef. The table in the back room leading to the yard was covered with a crisp white cloth, and here, the three artists told their stories. The paintings we were shown after lunch were breathtaking. Freddie and Rammey were so excited about our visit and Paddy Bedford sat at the head of the table with his smart, carved walking stick beside him. It was an unforgettable day and allowed privileged insight to the immense cultural importance of this work.
Rammey Rammsey and Freddie Timms were close friends and painted together for several decades. Once back at Warmun in the East Kimberley they reunited with the artist, Mabel Juli. Mabel is one of Australia’s most cherished Aboriginal artists today. She paints memories of her childhood on Springvale Station, but her most sought after works are of Garnkiny – Moon Dreaming and the Ngarranggarni - Dreamtime Stories, stories she was told by her father and mother.
While Timms and Juli use the natural earth pigments in their work Rammsey mixes strong, man -made colours with natural earth pigments, colour is his signature and this work is stunningly different, demonstrating his unique style using traditional Aboriginal motifs that depict water holes in his Kimberley country. Again it is water that dominates the work.
“think about the country where I was walking and camping…all the main waterholes, all the camping areas. I remember the places where I used to go mustering and I follow them up with my painting” — Freddie Timms
We pay tribute to Timms in this exhibition – certainly known as one of Australia’s greatest indigenous artists.
— Jennifer Guerrini-Maraldi