Courtesans of the Tamaya House screen painting

© Family of Dick Roughsey. Reproduced with permission of artist's family

Large image 

Not currently on display

Department of Africa, Oceania and the Americas 

Object details

Height: 68.7 cm
Width: 46.2 cm
Museum number: Oc1991,06.1

Donated by Anthony Shelton, 1991

View object in the Collection online 

Image service

License image 
Commission photography 

Share this object

The Coming of the Balamando People, painting by Dick (Goobalathaldin) Roughsey

Indigenous Australian, about 1960-1980

Dick (Goobalathaldin) Roughsey was born in 1920 on Mornington Island, Queensland. Mornington Island is home to Aboriginal people known as the Lardil. He grew up on the land with his parents and later spent time in the children’s dormitory of the Presbyterian Mission at Mornington Island and then worked on a cattle station.

In the 1960s he developed a style of painting on bark which was adopted by other artists in that region. An airline pilot, Percy Tresize, helped him with materials and to promote his art. Together Roughsey and Tresize produced many popular books dealing with Aboriginal stories for children.

This painting titled ‘The Coming of the Balamando People’ depicts a story of the Lardil people about the creation of the first people. It depicts Marnbill, his wife Gin-Gin, and her uncle, Luwaluwal. These creation beings made all the land, the rivers and the animals and gave them names. After digging the wells on the island, they made fish traps and camped on Wallaby Island where Luwaluwal was killed by a spear. Upon his death, he went up to the sky and as he went, left all the curses people have today.

Roughsey played an important role in promoting Lardil culture and was appointed the first chairman of the Aboriginal Arts Board of the Australia Council in 1973. He was awarded an OBE in 1978.

He authored an account of his life in Moon and Rainbow: the Autobiography of an Aboriginal, published in Sydney in 1971.