An iconic Australian artist celebrated – QAG debuts the first-ever Dick Roughsey retrospective
For countless Australian children, their first introduction to the rich and vibrant world of Aboriginal storytelling has no doubt been through the tale of The Rainbow Serpent. However, many people wouldn’t be able to tell you off the top of their head who was responsible for the breathtaking illustrations that adorned the 1975 edition of the book that is still so loved – his name is Goobalathaldin Dick Roughsey, and his body of work extends far beyond the pages of children’s books. Queensland Art Gallery has assembled a major retrospective of Dick’s incredible art – in a world first, you can witness Stories of this Land as told by one of our country’s finest.
Celebrating the life and art of Goobalathaldin Dick Roughsey, Stories of this Land is a major landmark retrospective that brings together more than 70 of the artist’s works. The exhibition has been expertly co-curated by Bruce Johnson McLean (the curator of Indigenous Australian Art for QAGOMA) and Teho Ropeyarn (the assistant curator at Cairns Art Gallery), showcasing a collection of pieces that span Dick’s life and career – from early barks, paintings, ceremonial and historical objects through to original illustrations from his picture books and three story book films.
Stories of this Land is a true reflection of Goobalathaldin Dick Roughsey’s significant contribution to the world of Indigenous Australian art. Aside from his children’s book illustrations, he is perhaps most noted for his landscape paintings featuring North Queensland ancestral narratives and scenes portraying life on Mornington Island through the lenses of pre- and post-European contact. Even from his early artistic days, Dick forged a distinctive style characterised by stark white backgrounds painted with traditional Lardil stories stylised in a silhouetted, figurative manner.
Want to witness one of the most significant bodies of work from a truly iconic Indigenous Australian artist? Goobalathaldin Dick Roughsey: Stories of this Land opens at the Queensland Art Gallery from March 30 until August 18.
Goobalathaldin Dick Roughsey / Lardil people, Australia 1924-1985 / The next resting place was at Fairview where he decided to make another lily lagoon called Minalinka… 1974 / Synthetic polymer paint on paper / 25.4 x 48cm / Collection: Fryer Library, The University of Queensland Library / © Dick Goobalathaldin Roughsey/Licensed by Copyright Agency
Goobalathaldin Dick Roughsey / Lardil people, Australia 1924-1985 / The Wangu brothers ran down off the mountain and Goorialla snored on until a cold wind… 1974/ Synthetic polymer paint on paper / 25.4 x 48cm / Collection: Fryer Library, The University of Queensland Library / © Dick Goobalathaldin Roughsey/Licensed by Copyright Agency
Goobalathaldin Dick Roughsey / Lardil people, Australia 1924-1985 / Goobalathaldin’s Birth Day 1984 / Synthetic polymer paint on Masonite panel / Private collection, Gold Coast / © Goobalathaldin Dick
Goobalathaldin Dick Roughsey / Lardil people, Australia 1924-1985 / Strange procession passing by (from ‘Jackey Jackey and Kennedy’ series) 1983 / Oil on board / Gift of Barbara Blackman through the Queensland Art Gallery Foundation 1998 / Collection: Queensland Art Gallery | Gallery of Modern Art. / © Goobalathaldin Dick Roughsey. Licenced by Copyright Agency 2019
Goobalathaldin Dick Roughsey/ Lardil people, Australia 1924-1985 / Tribe on the move in the past, Cape York 1983 / Oil on board / 30 x 40cm / Gift of Simon, Maggie and Pearl Wright through the Queensland Art Gallery | Gallery of Modern Art Foundation 2015. Donated through the Australian Government’s Cultural Gifts Program / Collection: Queensland Art Gallery | Gallery of Modern Art. / © Dick Goobalathaldin Roughsey/Licensed by Copyright Agency