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Rover (Julama) Thomas

Owls at Tunnel Creek - 1984

natural earth pigment and resin on construction plywood
120.0 x 47.0 cm
EST. $14,000 - $16,000

MP #317


Field Collected, WA
Private Collection, Vic
Art Mob, Tas
Private Collection, Tas

In this painting Rover depicts the Mook Mook Owl and her young at a place called Tunnel Creek. Also depicted is Blue Tongue Lizard Dreaming near the Argyle mine turnoff. The black circle represents a cave and the arch represents the entrance: to the cave.


The Spotted Nightjar and the Owlet Nightjar who in human form created the moieties and the rules of marriage, and other cultural practices are two of the most important totemic beings in the Kimberley region in the North West of Australia. They are associated with Wandjina beings known as Wanalirri, and through the Wunan exchange ceremonial cycle which the owls created, spread affiliation to the Wandjina to the eastern Kimberley. The Wanalirri song cycle composed about 1972 by the Worora elder, Wattie Ngerdu, relates a battle between the Wandjina and humans over the treatment of the owls by children. The ensuing battle nearly caused the destruction of the human race. 


The Ancestral Owl, which goes by a number of names, including Mook Mook, is one of the few subjects that the Rover Thomas rendered in a naturalistic fashion in his paintings.