Jack Britten, a senior Gija lawman, was born at Tickelara in the East Kimberley. As a boy he was taken to work as a stockman and later as a road worker. In 1982 Jack moved back permanently to Frog Hollow, in the East Kimberley, where he had worked to establish the Worranginy Out-Station.
Jack Britten’s painting and screenprints focus on his country in the East Kimberley, its origins, ceremonies and ancestral figures; his vision merging the spiritual and physical landscape.
Jack Britten began ochre painting early in life. His grandparents taught him to paint using traditional materials, methods and themes. Distinctive features of his painting are the use of bush-gum or sap as the binder for ochres and the use of saw-toothed incising. Britten depicts his Dreamings with a lateral landscape perspective and gentle clusters of dome shaped ranges which represent the Bungle Bungles. He is known for his exploration of the landscape with rough textures and bold designs.
The distinctive dotting which outlines and is embodied in the landscape forms, describes the country and evokes the presence of ancestors and ceremonies. Jack often incorporates body markings into his work emphasising his ritual seniority. His work is a spiritual and lyrical reflection on the landscape.
Since 1987 Jack Britten has exhibited all over Australia including in the ‘Crossroads – Towards a New Reality’, ‘Aboriginal Art from Australia’ in Kyoto and Tokyo in 1992; and ‘Images of Power, Aboriginal Art of the Kimberley’ at the National Gallery of Victoria in 1993.
In 1992 he won the Museums and Art Galleries Award and the National Aboriginal Art Award. His work is held in several private and corporate collections.
The artist died in 2002.
Subject & Themes
Country around Turkey Creek, Ord river, Bedford Downs, Flying Fox, limestone country east of Kimberley, centipede, Bull Creek country, Purnululu-Bungle-Bungles.
Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney.
Art Gallery of Western Australia, Perth.
Gifu Museum, Japan.
Museum and Art Gallery of the Northern Territory, Darwin.
National Gallery of Australia, Canberra.
National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne.
The Holmes a Court Collection, Perth.
The Kelton Foundation, Santa Monica, U.S.A.
1987 Aboriginal Art from the Kimberley, Goolarabooloo Gallery, Broome.
1988 Art of the East Kimberley, Birrukmarri Gallery, Perth.
1988 ANCAAA and Boomalli, Boomalli Aboriginal Artists Ko-operative, Sydney.
1988 Aboriginal Art from the East Kimberley, New South Wales Craft Council Gallery, Sydney.
1989 Turkey Creek Recent Work, Deutscher Gertrude Street, Melbourne.
1990 The Seventh National Aboriginal Art Award Exhibition, Museum and Art Gallery of the Northern Territory, Darwin.
1992 Crossroads-Towards a New Reality, Aboriginal Art from Australia, National Museums of Modern Art, Kyoto and Tokyo.
1992 Broome Fringe Festival, Broome.
1992 The Ninth National Aboriginal Art Award Exhibition, Museum and Art Gallery of the Northern Territory, Darwin.
1993 Images of Power, Aboriginal Art of the Kimberley, National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne.
1994 Australian Heritage Commission National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Art Award Exhibition, Old Parliament House, Canberra.
1994 Power of the Land, Masterpieces of Aboriginal Art, National Gallery of Victoria.
1994 Power of the Land Masterpieces of Aboriginal Art, National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne.
1996 13th NATSI Art Award Museum & Art Galleries of NT, Darwin.
1997 Imaging the Land National Gallery of Vic, Melbourne.
1999 Images in Ochre,Cooee Aboriginal Art Gallery, Sydney.
Aboriginal Artists of Western Australia, [n.d.] [folios of works and biographies], Aboriginal Education Resources Unit, W. Australia.
Australian Art Collector, issue 7 1999 Caruana, W., 1993, Aboriginal Art, Thames and Hudson, London. (C)
Dixon, R.A., & Dillon, M.C., 1990, Aborigines and Diamond Mining: The Politics of Resource Development in the East Kimberley Western Australia, University of Western Australia Press, Nedlands, Western Australia.
1988, ANCAAA and Boomalli, exhib. cat., Boomalli Aboriginal Artists Ko-operative, Sydney. (C)
McCulloch, A., & McCulloch, S., 1994, The Encyclopedia of Australian Art, Allen & Unwin Pty Ltd, St Leonards, New South Wales.
McCulloch S,Contemporary Aboriginal Art:a guide to the rebirth ofan ancient culture Allen & Unwin 1999
Ryan, J., 1993, Images of Power, Aboriginal Art of the Kimberley, exhib, cat., National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne.
Smoker, J., 1989, Turkey Creek Recent Work, exhib. cat., Deutscher Gertrude Street, Melbourne.