EVER PRESENT ROVER THOMAS CYCLONE TRACY T-SHIRT
In 1975, Rover Thomas was visited in a dream by his recently deceased aunt, who told him that she had witnessed the Rainbow Serpent – a key creation being represented by many Aboriginal artists across Australia – destroying Garramilla/Darwin in the form of a cyclone, as punishment for people there not practising culture. Cyclone Tracy, which hit the city on the morning of 24 December 1974, remains one of Australia’s most destructive cyclones. Thomas’s dream also inspired him to develop a new ceremonial song-and-dance cycle, the Kuril Kuril/Gurirr Gurirr, which includes painted boards held on the dancers’ shoulders. Featuring a single event, site or spirit figure, these graphically striking boards led to a new form of painting in the East Kimberley region during the 1980s.
Rover Thomas [Joolama], Kukatja/Wangkajunga peoples, Cyclone Tracy, 1991, natural earth pigments and binder on canvas, 168 x 180 cm, National Gallery of Australia, Kamberri/Canberra, purchased 1991, © Rover Thomas [Joolama]/Copyright Agency, 2022