Uluruby Harold Thomas
This magnificent artwork depicts Uluru , a listed World Heritage Site. This large sandstone rock formation in located 450km south-west of Alice Springs in central Australia.
Uluru is sacred to the Pitjantjatjara and Yankunytjatjara, the Aboriginal people of the area. It has many springs, waterholes, rock caves and ancient rock paintings. There are many Dreamtime legends associated with this sacred place and is of spiritual importance.
Harold Joseph Thomas was born in 1947 in Alice Springs. His mother was a Luritja woman and his father a Wombai man. Sadly, Harold Thomas is part of the stolen generation. A government policy which removed Aboriginal children from their families in a sorry attempt to assimilate them into Western and white society, often these children were selected on the “lightness” of their skin.
As a young child Harold was removed from his family and placed at St John’s Hostel. At age 11 he was sent to South Australia to reside in an Anglican institution for Aboriginal boys, St. Frances House. At 12 he was fostered into a white family where he attended school, this was where his interest in painting and art began. After high school in 1965, Harold was awarded a scholarship to study at the South Australian School of Art. He went on to become the first Aboriginal to graduate from an Australian art school. He also has an honorary degree in Social Anthropology from Adelaide University.
In 1970 he began working as a survey artist at the South Australian Museum, this museum held the largest collection of Australian Aboriginal art and Harold talks of absorbing all that he could about his culture and heritage.
In 1971 Harold designed the Aboriginal Flag; he also became actively involved in the Aboriginal Civil Rights movement and began working with the Stolen Generation. Harold designed the flag as a symbol of the Indigenous land rights movement, the black represents Aboriginal people, the red represents the red earth, ochre and spiritual connection to the land and the yellow represents the sun, life giver and protector. In 1995 Harold’s design was officially recognised as the official Aboriginal flag of Australia. Later he was involved in a high profile Federal and High Court case to assert copyright over his design, he won and rightfully so. The flag today still remains a strong and unifying symbol of Aboriginal rights and social justice.
Harold is an extremely talented watercolour artist, whilst his artwork does not use traditional Aboriginal iconography, his connection to land and spirituality is evident in his artworks which depict the landscape and wildlife of the Top End. He has lived in Darwin for over 40 years and has a significant and important connection to the land. He has a special appreciation and passion for Gouldian Finches which are an endangered species of bird in Australia and to acknowledge this he regularly uses them as the subject of his paintings.
I (Sabine Haider, Director of Central Art) see Harold very much as a mentor and have the up most respect for him as an artist and person. He is a true inspiration and all that he has accomplished in his life and career. His artworks are in several important Australian collections and he has had multiple exhibitions throughout Australia. I consider him to be one of the best water colour and oil artists. Harold is not a fan of photographs and as such Central Art has respected his wishes not to display his photo and instead use his artwork as his profile picture.
Not only has he designed the Aboriginal Australian Flag, a tremendous achievement and recognition but he has also received recognition and awards through the most prestigious art award in Australia, the National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Art Award, coming third in its inaugural year, 1984. He has also been commissioned to complete several important artworks.
Central Art is pleased to have an ongoing working relationship with Harold and has several of his beautiful artworks available for purchase. We are also proud to have one of his amazing oil paintings which provides a wonderful scenic view of the Kakadu wetlands.
Certificate of Provenance
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Important copyright notice
The Copyright of all images and documentation remains with Sabine Haider. The Australian Copyright Act protects all artists from unauthorised copying by giving control over original works of art to the artist by law. However depending on the use proposed, Sabine Haider from Central Art – Aboriginal Art Store can facilitate reproduction of works with the permission of the artist as we have developed close relationships over the years with many individual painters and craftspeople.
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