Jack BRITTEN JOOLAMA - Initiation Ceremony

Jack BRITTEN JOOLAMA - Initiation Ceremony

c.2000, 90 x 120cm ADG:2167

ADG: 2167



Story of Painting - Initiation Ceremony, c.2000

Initiation ceremonies relate to Men’s Ceremonial Law, with deeply sensitive and serious themes. These ceremonies mark the transition period from adolescence into manhood. Young men who are to go through Law are taken out to a bush camp with other men. What takes place in bush camp is secret but there may also be some public ceremonies of men’s singing and women’s dancing.


Born c.1925-2002

Language Gija/Gidja

Country East Kimberley, WA

Community Warmun (Turkey Creek)

Residence Frog Hollow (Woorranginy)

Stories Country around Turkey Creek, Ord River, Bedford Downs, Flying Fox, Limestone Country east of Kimberley, Centipede, Bull Creek Country, Purnululu (Bungle Bungle Range), Hermit, Barramundi, Initiation, Night Corroboree, Female Spirit.


Jack Britten was born at Tickelara in the East Kimberley region of Western Australia. As a boy he was taken to work as a stockman and later as a road worker. In 1982 Jack moved back permanently to Frog Hollow (Woorranginy), in the East Kimberley where he worked to establish the Worranginy Outstation.

Jack Britten began ochre painting early in life. His grandparents taught him to paint using traditional materials, methods and themes. Distinctive features of his painting are the use of bush-gum or sap from trees as the binder for ochre (natural earth pigment) and the use of saw-toothed incising.

Jack Britten, a senior Gija (Gidja) lawman, focused his paintings and screenprints on his country in the East Kimberley, its origins, ceremonies and ancestral figures, merging into its spiritual and physical landscape. His Dreamings depict a lateral landscape perspective and gentle clusters of dome shaped ranges representing Purnululu (World Heritage listed Bungle Bungle Range). He is known for his exploration of the landscape using rough textures and bold designs, with distinctive dotting to outline the landscape forms, and to describe the country with its underlying presence of ancestors and ceremonies. Jack often incorporated body markings into his work to emphasise his ritual seniority.

Selected Exhibitions

1987 Aboriginal Art from the Kimberley, Goolarabooloo Gallery, Broome

1988 University of Western Australia, Perth

1988 Aboriginal Art from the East Kimberley, Craft Council of NSW Gallery, Sydney

1989 Queensland Art Gallery, Brisbane

1992 Crossroads-Towards a New Reality, Aboriginal Art from Australia, National Museum of Modern Art, Kyoto and Tokyo, Japan

1992 Broome Fringe Festival, Broome

1993 Images of Power, Aboriginal Art of the Kimberley, National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne

1994 Power of the Land, Masterpieces of Aboriginal Art, National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne

1997 Imaging the Land, National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne

1999 Images in Ochre, Cooee Aboriginal Art Gallery, Sydney


1990 Seventh National Aboriginal Art Award Exhibition, Museum and Art Gallery of the Northern Territory, Darwin

1992 The Ninth National Aboriginal Art Award Exhibition, Museum and Art Gallery of the Northern Territory, Darwin

1994 Australian Heritage Commission. National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Art Award Exhibition, Old Parliament House, Canberra

1996 Thirteenth NATSI Art Award Museum and Art Galleries of Northern Territory, Darwin


Artbank, Sydney

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.

Kerry Stokes Collection, Perth


Aboriginal Artists of Western Australia, Aboriginal Education Resources Unit, W. Australia.

Australian Art Collector, issue 7 1999 Caruana, W., 1993, Aboriginal Art, Thames and Hudson, London.

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, Boomalli Aboriginal Artists Ko-operative, Sydney.

McCulloch, A.,and McCulloch, S., 1994, The Encyclopaedia of Australian Art, Allen and 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, National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne.

Smoker, J., 1989, Turkey Creek Recent Work, Deutscher Gertrude Street, Melbourne.

Ranking - Most Important Australian Indigenous Artists (both living and deceased)

2011 Ranked 43/100

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