I promised to dedicate a whole blog post to fabulous Bininj artist Thompson Nganjmirra.
Admittedly, that was over a year ago… Mea culpa!
Thommo is a Kunwinjku speaker from West Arnhemland. His home, the Djalama clan country, is in the Goomadeer River region, in the stone country west of Maningrida. Thommo can look back on a long artistic tradition in his family, all members of the Nganjmirra family are outstanding painters and artists.
His paintings tell about his connection with his country, like the story of Likanaya and Marrayka, the two ladies who became Yawk Yawk (freshwater mermaids).
You can find Thommo’s art at Injalak Arts in Gunbalanya (Oenpelli) as well as in Darwin, where Leslie Nawirridj, another senior member of the Kunwinjku family of artists, has added some of Thommo’s work to the portfolio of Kunwinjku Aboriginal Art.
Meet Leslie at the Parap Markets on Saturdays or at Stokes Hill Wharf on Wednesday evenings while you’re in Darwin!
For a few years Thommo has been sharing his time between his Bininj family in Gunbalaya and his Balanda family (us) here in Jabiru, where miraculously he finds the peace and quiet to paint (as our place isn’t necessarily one of calm and tranquillity when we prepare for the next tour).
Curious why people from all over the world come to Kakadu to visit Jim Jim Falls and Twin Falls he went along on a tour with Steve a little while ago. Since he liked what he saw he now joins our tours a couple of times a week, teaching us Balanda (non-indigenous people) a thing or two about bush tucker, bush medicine and the Bininj way of looking after country.
In the afternoon, while some of our passengers brave the cold water and enjoy a swim at Jim Jim Falls, he usually gets out a canvas and starts painting, happy to share his stories with those who are intrigued by the intricate details and fine crosshatching that make his art so recognisable.
Thommo is a man of many talents and an equal number of commitments!
Last weekend, for example, he treated visitors to Kakadu National Park to a painting demonstration and workshop at Bowali Visitor Centre as part of the NAIDOC week festivities.
If you’d like to meet Thommo on one of our tours, please contact us prior to booking to check his availability. We look forward to hearing from you soon!