Jack Karedada circa 1920-2003
- Namarali - The First One
- Natural earth pigments on eucalyptus bark (eucalyptus tetradonta)
- 100cm by 49cm
Sotheby's Important Aboriginal Art, Melbourne, 29 June 1998, Lot 7
The Thomas Vroom Collection, The Netherlands
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The title of this painting is derived from Worrorra mythology related to the creation of the coastline between the Prince Regent River and Doubtful Bay in the West Kimberley. Namarali (Namarlee), a senior Wanjina, creates the coastline as he and other Wanjinas, chase and fight over the female Rock Cod being. A major site for this Wanjina is located in the cave at Ngumbri (Raft Point).
The anthropologist Ian Crawford recounted one version of this myth, “Namarali was chasing the rock cod, but he could not catch her for she kept slipping through his hands. From this corner to that corner, all around he was chasing her at the place called Langgi. He chased her into the eastern corner when his group met another group of Wanjinas. His people told him:
‘They are fighting – they’ve taken your wife!'
Then he went to the fight and with all the strength he had, he belted the whole lot with his club. He knocked the lot down, but they put a spear into his side then.
The mob looked at him saying:
‘Hello – he got speared! He's speared in a fatal place he will die.'
Everybody cried for him then.
His group carried him away, made the tree platform where his grave is and painted him on the rocks. The people must use the burial platform because the Wanjina used it: that fellow made the law for the dead bodies.” (ibid)
Jack Karedada belonged to the family of artists whose total output exceeded those of any other school of Wanjina painters. Jack, his wife Lily (Mindildil), his brother Lewis and Lewis’ wife Rosie (Ngalirrman) were members of the Wunambal speaking peoples that occupied the North West Kimberley between the Prince Regent River and the King Edward River. Their brother Manila Karedada (Kutwit) had been one of the foremost painters of Wanjina pictures during the renaissance of North Kimberley art that occurred in the mid-1970s.
The clan lands of the Karedada families lie at Cape Voltaire (Wulangku) and its primary totemic affiliation is the butcherbird (karadada). It is this bird that gives the clan its name. The Karedada patrilineal moiety affiliations are wodoi, the spotted nightjar, and the brolga, kurangkuli. The reciprocal moiety totems are the Jiringgun, the owlet nightjar and banar the bustard. These birds are the primary totemic species for Lily and Rosie.
Karedada had several styles he drew upon when painting his Wanjina figures. Most were relatively small pictures, but there was a period in the late 1970s and early 1980s that his painting exceeded a metre in height. He also had several styles of depicting the hair/head-dress of his figures. There are at least four large paintings that show (as does this particular painting) the rays as long and broad spikes, rather than denser and shorter extensions of the head or halo that are more commonly seen in his work. A number of Karedada’s paintings also show the little bush sprites that were sometimes painted as support figures. Since the 1990s these figures are more likely to be directly derived from the now-famous Gwion-Gwion (or Bradshaw paintings) found in the early rock art styles of the region.