KIRRIWIRRI, 2006 – 2007

Aboriginal Art from the Luczo Family Collection
19 October 2016


(c.1930 – 2016)
KIRRIWIRRI, 2006 – 2007

suite of five works, synthetic polymer paint and natural earth pigments on plywood panels

90.5 x 60.0 cm each

each bears inscription verso: artist’s name, date, medium, number and Short Street Gallery cat. 24211

$15,000 – 20,000 (5)
Sold for $39,040 (inc. BP) in Auction 45 - 19 October 2016, Melbourne

Short Street Gallery, Broome
AP Bond Gallery, Adelaide
The Luczo Family Collection, USA

Catalogue text

This painting is accompanied by a certificate of authenticity from Short Street Gallery that states: ‘“This place is the birth-place of my father’s clan. Our clan is also Kirriwirri and call each individual members of the clan Kirriwirri. There is a big warla (mud flat) at this place. This is what this painting is about.”

Kirriwirri is in the Great Sandy Desert close to the Canning Stock Route in Western Australia. It is the birthplace of Jan and her family. This work shows tali (sand dunes) and jila (living water).’

The paintings of Jan Billycan (DjanNamundie) exhibit the Aboriginal perception that draws a metaphysical analogy between the human body and the landscape. The land is not separate from the people who inhabit it; rather, it is a fundamental element of an individual’s identity on ancestral, physical and social levels. Kirriwirri, 2006– 2007, is an outstanding pictorial expression of the concept where ribcage-like sections correspond to rows of tali or sand hills in Billycan’s ancestral lands, bulbous blue forms represent jila or ‘living water’ (freshwater) and the so-called ‘intestines’ map the journeys of the creator beings through the landscape. The artist’s statement that accompanies the painting describes Kirriwirri as not only the birthplace of her father’s clan, but the name of that clan and a name for each individual member of the clan. The painting possesses a visceral quality that is evident throughout the artist’s mature work; forms jostle against one another and push up against the picture frame.

Kirriwirri, 2006– 2007 is one a small number of multi-panelled works made by the artist – the largest of which is All That Jila, 2006, housed in the collection of the National Gallery of Australia and featured in Culture Warriors, the first National Indigenous Triennial at the Gallery in 2007.1 Jan Billycan has been represented in other major exhibitions including Yiwarra Kuju: The Canning Stock Route at the National Museum of Australia, Canberra (2010), and in 2011 she won the Western Australian Artist of the year award at Art Gallery of Western Australia.


1. Croft, B.L., Culture Warriors: National Indigenous Triennial, National Gallery of Australia, Canberra, 2007, p. 68 (illus.)