Charlie Numbulmore, Wanjina on Coolamon, QAGOMA, April 2022
The only publicly held example of an indigenous painting on coolamon is now on display in Queensland, thanks to funding assistance from the National Cultural Heritage Account.
Created in 1970 by the Kimberly artist Charlie Numbulmore, this is the only known example of the artist's work on coolamon, a wooden carrying vessel traditionally used by First Nations peoples to carry water, fruits, nuts and other types of bush tucker.
Charlie Numbulmore (c.1907–1971) was part of a small group of senior Aboriginal men from the central and northwest Kimberley in Western Australia that painted Wanjinas on bark in the 1960s. Along with Sam Woolagoodja and Alec Mingelmanganu, he was responsible for the first major 20th century Kimberley art movement.
Wanjina represent powerful spirit ancestors who laid down in caves at the end of their earthly lives and turned into paintings. Paintings of Wanjina in Kimberley caves and on rock formations have been dated to 3–4,000 years.
This coolamon is one of a number of Indigenous artworks that has been acquired by the Queensland Art Gallery | Gallery of Modern Art (QAGOMA) with assistance from the Account. It will be on display as part of QAGOMA's Transitions exhibition until June 2023.