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Devil Devil Spirit - 1985

natural earth pigments on composition board
70.0 x 93.0 cm
Price Realised: $2,074.00

MP #361


Artists: Paddy Jaminji (Jampin), and Rover Thomas Joolama

Field Collected, WA c. 1985
Dr Peter Elliott Collection, NSW
thence by descent

Artwork 70 x 93 cm : frame 75.5 x 99 cm

Paddy Jaminji, was the classificatory ‘uncle’ of Rover Thomas and a highly respected elder during the establishment of the Warmun Community at Turkey Creek in the early 1970s. By a strange twist of fate he became the founder of the contemporary painting style of the East Kimberley region after being displaced from his working life as a stockman along with his countrymen.


In 1974, Jaminji, Thomas, and their contemporaries viewed the destruction of Darwin by Cyclone Tracy as a manifestation of the Rainbow Serpent warning them to make a stand against sliding into the Gadiya (white man’s) ways. This cataclysmic event at the region’s centre of European influence became, for Gidja people in particular, the focus for cultural revival.

During this period of upheaval, Rover Thomas dreamed of travels visiting important sites throughout the Kimberley with the spirit of a deceased female relative. Over time the dream evolved into a ceremony that included art and dance. It was Jaminji who was initially the most prolific producer of the paintings that were associated with this ceremony. At the time, Rover Thomas described himself as apprentice and confidante to the older man whose great store of knowledge about the land, its features and spiritual significance, provided the grounding for new ideas and images. These eventually defined his unique and evocative ceremonial paintings.

This painting depicts a Devil Devil, Manginta, the spirit of Tuwarrin. According to legend, Manginta is killed by Yulamangi another Devil Devil when he tries to steal the Corroboree. Boards like this were used to re-enact the story during ceremony.