Born: c. 1947
Language Group: Luritja and Wombai
Country: Western Desert, Northern Territory and South Australia
Medium: Watercolour on Board, Acrylic on Canvas, Oil on Arches Paper
Subjects: Landscapes, Untitled
Harold Thomas is a classically trained indigenous artist who has lived in the Top End of Australia for more than 35 years. His paintings resonate with surreal, mystical light and his paint application is vigorous and masterful, techniques learnt through sound tuition in the 1960's.
Harold was born in Alice Springs in 1947 into a large family of 13 children. His mother is a Luritja woman while his dad was Wombai man. At a young age he was taken from his family and placed at St John's Hostel, then at the age of seven he was sent to South Australia's St Frances House, an Anglican institution for Aboriginal boys. By the age of eleven he was fostered to a white family. At school he excelled in sports and started to take a strong interest in painting. After high school he won a scholarship to study at the South Australian School of Art and later studied social anthropology at the University of Adelaide.
During his time at university, Harold became actively involved in the Aboriginal Civil Rights movement and designed what became the Aboriginal Flag in 1971. The flag was chosen as the official flag for the Aboriginal Tent Embassy and was first flown there in 1972. In 1995, the Australian Government proclaimed the flag as an official 'Flag of Australia'. It wasn't until 1997 that Harold Thomas was recognised as the author of the artistic work under the Copyright Act 1968. Today, the flag remains a strong and unifying symbol for Aboriginal rights and justice.
Often working in isolated conditions in the bush, Thomas distinguishes his paintings with the light and unearthly colours of the North. His classical techniques are connected to a deep love for the country and its unique wildlife. Without the intrusion of man-made objects, his compositions have a purity of form and a timeless quality. Harold Thomas is without doubt one of the most accomplished contemporary artists of his kind.
Art Gallery of Western Australia, Perth, WA
Flinders University Art Museum, Adelaide, SA
Museum and Art Gallery of the Northern Territory, Darwin, NT
Queensland Art Gallery, Brisbane, QLD
Heritage Aboriginal Art Gallery, Darwin, NT
Esplanade Gallery, Darwin, NT
The Parap Gallery, Darwin
Raintree Gallery, Darwin, NT
Birukmarri Gallery, Fremantle, WA
Caz Gallery, Los Angeles, California, USA
Masterworks Exhibition, Raintree Gallery, Darwin, NT
Balance 1990 - Views - Visions - Influences, QAG, Brisbane, QLD
The Tenth National Aboriginal Art Award Exhibition, Museum and Art Gallery of the Northern Territory, Darwin, NT
Inaugural National Aboriginal Art Award, Northern Territory Museum of Arts and Sciences, Darwin, NT - Third Place
Portraits of Parliamentarians, Darwin NT - Commission
33rd Telstra National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Art Awards (NATSIAA), Museum and Art Gallery of the Northern Territory, Darwin, NT - Winner