Judith-Rose Thomas completed her Honours degree at School of Visual & Performing Arts, University of Tasmania, Launceston in 2002.



Symbolic Landscape, gouache on wood 240 x 240cm 2002

The artwork consists of Aboriginal petroglyphs that were carved on the rock formations, most of the particular areas are around the North West and north eastern coastline of Tasmania. The significance of my paintings is to achieve with the use of wood, impasto gel, modelling compound and gouache paint, a portrayal of spiritualism, symbolism and mythology in Aboriginal culture in Tasmania. Using Aboriginal symbols from the past as a perspective into the future. The work will demonstrate a contemporary form of art from an Aboriginal’s perspective, yet recognising the European context of much of its production. Done in geometrical shapes and structure as a form of depicting the Aboriginal people existing in a geometrically constructed and contemporary world.

My mother, Rose Australia Thomas, died when I was two years old. My motherís mother, Augusta Lavinia Maynard, reared me from an early age in Launceston, along with eleven children and four grandchildren. For a long time, I was cut off from my Aboriginal past.

I began painting with Sandra Walters and then with the late Greg Waddle for 18 months before going to the University of Tasmania. At the moment Iím fulfilling a dream and starting my Master of Fine Arts and Design degree at the University of Tasmania, Launceston. I live out under the Great Western Tiers, in the small township of Bishopsbourne, a painterís paradise.

The significance of my project for my painting is to achieve, with the use of wood, impasto gel, modelling compound and gouache, a landscape portraying symbolism, spirituality, and mythology within the Tasmanian aboriginal culture. To achieve this, designs of Tasmanian Aboriginal petroglyphs were formed in the texture of modelling compound and impasto gel to create a sense of Aboriginal presence on the island of Tasmania being a haven for my people. The purpose of the painting, using the Tasmanian Aboriginal petroglyphs, is my way of recording and protecting historical information about Aboriginal ancestral beings decaying or wearing away in time from the natural elements. Using shapes and structures within the work I depict the geometrically constructed contemporary world in which Aboriginal are forced to live under the dominance of white Europeans. Outlines of the Tasmanian Aboriginal petroglyphs are believed to be a form of Aboriginal documentation used to educate their youth thousands of years ago. The framing isolated the work within the constraints of a barrier. Names of Aboriginal people have been inscribed backwards on the two frames, thus connecting them to the past and protecting the petroglyphs for the future. Gold is used to show the wealth of our land and ochre used as a form of decoration references Manalargenna, Chief of Cape Portland tribe from whom I originated. From the times of Manalargenna to a contemporary world of today Tasmania is a safe haven for all my people. Aboriginals who dwell on the Bass Strait islands, are there because thatís where Manalargenna and our ancestors were exiled, and he longed to be on the Cape PortlandóBen Lomond land and although I have seen all of Australia, I see Tasmania as my refuge, my haven.

Judith-Rose Thomas thanks Manalargenna for her Aboriginal heritage, Aunty Molly for her encouragement throughout the time I spent at the University of Tasmania, and Sandra Walters for beginning my life of art.

Judith-Rose Thomas 2002