Goobalathaldin Dick Roughsey / Strange procession passing by (from ‘Jackey Jackey and Kennedy’ series) 1983 / Oil on board / 60 x 90cm / Gift of Barbara Blackman through the Queensland Art Gallery Foundation 1998 / Collection: Queensland Art Gallery | Gallery of Modern Art / © Estate of Dick Roughsey. Licensed by Copyright Agency, 2019

The first major retrospective celebrating the life and work of artist and Lardil man Goobalathaldin Dick Roughsey (1920–1985) opens at the Queensland Art Gallery (QAG) from 30 March 2019. ‘Stories of this Land’ recognises the artistic and social contributions of Roughsey, a revered elder and artistic pioneer of Indigenous art and culture. Throughout his career, he explored traditional practices, stories and ceremonies, social effects caused by missionary activity, everyday life on Mornington Island, and his journey through Cape York. The exhibition brings together seventy works including barks, paintings, ceremonial and historical objects, draft illustrations from his children’s book and three story book films.

Dick Roughsey near Laura, North Queensland, 1979 / Collection: National Archives of Australia / © National Archives of Australia 2019

Roughsey was well-known for his landscape paintings featuring North Queensland ancestral narratives and scenes depicting life on Mornington Island both before and after European contact. He is probably best known for his illustrated children’s books, notably The Rainbow Serpent – first published in 1975 and still in print today. Roughsey truly understood the power of storytelling, for thousands of children The Rainbow Serpent remains an important first encounter with Indigenous Australian culture and an introduction to some of the key Indigenous narratives of this land.


SOURCE: Queensland Art Gallery Gallery of Modern Art.