Unlike most contemporary Aboriginal artists who use acrylic paint, Phyllis Thomas paints ochre on canvas.
Being a Kitja ochre artist, she paints Daiwal (Barramundi) Dreaming. In order to catch the fish, people throw leaves into the water to make the barramundi sleepy – they then rise to the surface and are easier to catch! The leaves turn the water a red colour – hence Phyllis has painted the scales of the fish using red ochre. The black canvas behind represents the women’s skin.
The image on the left shows the elder women of the Kitja community semi dressed and displaying the body paint of the Barramundi on the top half of their bodies, in anticipation of Women’s Business. I find the picture interested and yet somehow disturbing – did the women wear their bra’s to protect their own modesty or the sensibilities of the gathered crowd?