Details & Cataloguing

Aboriginal Art


Charlie Numbulmoore circa 1907-1971


Collected by Tom McCourt at Gibb River Station in the West Kimberley in 1970
Private collection, South Australia
Deutscher and Hackett, Aboriginal and Oceanic Art, Melbourne, 14/10/2009, Lot No. 9
Private Collection


Tom McCourt, Aboriginal Artefacts, Rigby Press Australia, Adelaide, 1975, p. 48, illus.
Kim Akerman et al., The Presence of Greatness: Early Wanjina Paintings and Indigenous art of Western Australia, Tim Klingender Fine Art, Sydney, 2013, pp. 14-15, illus.

Catalogue Note

Kim Akerman writes with regard to this work: “During a visit to the Kimberley in 1971 South Australian pastoralist Tom McCourt had the opportunity to observe Charlie Numbulmoore paint on a variety of surfaces including stone, plywood and fibreboard. McCourt made possibly the largest and most certainly the last major collection of Charlie’s work. It is at this period that Charlie began painting mouths, sometimes filled with teeth, into the faces of his Wanjina images. McCourt also commissioned two very large Wanjinas, over 1.6 metres high, that Charlie executed on plywood. Unlike most of Charlie’s other paintings, each of the major Wanjina images was supported by a background in which a variety of animals, plants, along with spirit figures or smaller Wanjinas.

By the end of his life Charlie had probably produced a greater body of work than any previous Wanjina artist - most of which is now housed in public institutions. It was not until the mid-1970s that Wanjina art began to be produced by other artists in comparable numbers or of such high quality.

An anomaly, which Charlie introduced in the final years of his life was the inclusion of a mouth and sometimes teeth. At this period Charlie also began adding nostrils to the noses of his Wanjina paintings - transforming the organ into a somewhat serpent-like form.

Numbulmoore’s full-length figures are rarely as comfortably executed, with heads out of proportion with the often doll-like bodies and quite unlike the massive grandeur of full-length figures found in shelters and caves.

In many cases the background to Charlie’s Wanjina paintings may contain figures of spirit beings or animals including fish, tortoises, brolgas or with invertebrates - moths or butterflies - all of which have connections with water and the Wet Season - the very element controlled by the Wanjinas and the season at which the potency of the Wanjinas is most obvious.

Charlie Numbulmoore died in the later months of 1971” (ibid. p.14)

Aboriginal Art