Courtesans of the Tamaya House screen painting

Large image 

Not currently on display

Department of Africa, Oceania and the Americas 

Object details

Height: 46.00cm
Width: 30.70cm
Museum number: 2009,2023.11

Purchased from the Cross Cultural Art Exchange, Darwin, with funds from The Sosland Foundation

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Painting by Ian Abdulla

Indigenous Australian, 2009

Ian Abdulla was an Aboriginal artist who was born under a tree on the banks of the Murray River at Swan Reach in South Australia in 1947. His mother was from the Point McLeay Mission and his father was a man of Aboriginal-Afghan descent.

Abdulla lived most of his life in the riverland region of South Australia and worked in many rural industries. He started his involvement in art in 1988 and had his first exhibition in 1990 in Adelaide.

Abdulla was concerned for the health of the Murray River and his paintings generally depict his childhood spent by the river. This painting depicts him fishing from a boat in the river with white people fishing from the banks.

His paintings are characterised by a brilliant use of colour, narrating events from his life depicted in a naïve style. His works are represented in many Australian museums.

Abdulla is one of many Aboriginal Australians whose forebears include Afghan people who came to Australia as cameleers in the mid-nineteenth century.

Abdulla’s own history can be explored in his autobiographical and self-illustrated book, As I grew older: the life and times of a Nunga growing up along the Murray River. He died in 2011 leaving a strong artistic legacy through his paintings.