Dick Roughsey (1924 -1985) had a traditional name of Goobalathaldin meaning ‘ocean dancing’ a ‘rough sea.” He was a Lardil man born in Langu-Narnji (Sydney Island) near Mornington Island in the Gulf of Carpetaria. He remains one of Australia’s most significant and yet unheralded indigenous painters, and was a great roving ambassador for Lardil perspectives and cross-cultural conversation. Dick was also a writer and is best known for his children’s pictures stories including the traditional Australian stories of the Rainbow Serpent.

This iconic peice is a true find. Created and dated at 1968, it is an anchor-piece or corner-stone artefact amongst the other events and examples in this collection. This art work is an assett to niche collectors and museums. The fragile bark painting is stored and presented in a transparent sealed display box, allowing the viewer to observe both front and back of this item. The reverse side reveals a peice of patchment paper attached to the bark with an explanantion of the work in the artist’s own perfect cursive script.

Themes: Hunting is ‘men’s business’. It is dangerous and hard work, needing team approach and the spoils are shared with the whole clan.

Bark painting is a style of traditional Arhnum Lan and his mento Dick Roughsey.

Estimates of value about this piece could go enough to match the work of Dick Roughsey’s bark painting, as it fits well into antiqueties and artefact.

This is a valid peice of Mornington Island history.


Arnold Watt has and Isalnd or traditional language name of ‘Thuganmu’.

Arnold has a traditionla country of Barakiah and was related to Dick Roughsey.

Dingo depicts the spirit totem of the artist. This means that he was born with this animal’s spirit as his guardian. Indigenous people of Mornington Island bekieve that once he would return his energy back to the dingo spirit.

The circles are the clan groups and families in the environment. The  Dingo figure is sheltering on circle which represent Arnold himself.


Another abstraction, fluid and full of motion and vibrantion.

This and two other works, Twin Rivers plus Travelling Fish, are Renee’s early works. Most of her following output has been based upon these pieces.

This work represents the Four Clan Groups with several families within each group that exist in traditional context of people of Mornington Island. This idea is resonated throughout several of Renee’s subsequent works. Renee’s work is a transitional or progression on from Dick Roughsey’s naive bark peice of Mornington Island traditional hunting and gathering. It is full of symbolism speaking to us of traditional ways of living.

It is strongly representational of the environment, soil and rock, using traditional colours of the local landscape.  She identifies with the vivid separation of family but the encapsulating inclusive relationships of Clan Groups is all held neatly inside her island home.

An abstract representation of ripples created by a school of fish

This is a second generation of primitive or niave artworks depicting daily life on Morington Island

Born 1953, Oswald is a Lardil man from Mornington Island in the Gulf of Carpetaria called Guannana.

‘Ossi’ paints in a playful style using simple linear shapes to tell his traditional stories of the environment found in his island home.

In this interpretation of his idea of a creator, Oswald tells a Rainbow Serpent story. The serpent is depicted swimming gracefully and harmoniously with other creatures. The artist has used movement in a balanced and rhythmical manner and completes his story with depiction of fertility with the eggs of the creatures perpetuating future life..

The rainbow serpent is an important ancestral being for Indigenous communities and emerged in ancestral stories and related manifestations for the first time some 3,000 to 6,000 years ago.



Born 1953, Oswald is a Lardil man from Mornington Island in the Gulf of Carpetaria called Guannana.

‘Ossi’ paints in a playful style using simple linear shapes to tell his traditional stories of the environment found in his island home.

Again Oswald has selected fertility and longevity as his view of the swirling interplay of Turtles and Barramundi laying their eggs in the same environment. These food sources are important to Mornington Island people and represent survival and sustainability.

Jonathan Toby was born in Guanna (Morinington Island Qld) 1956. His traditional language was Lardil.

This painting was created with using gum leaves to apply paint. An unusual approach yet successful with a vibrant efffect reflecting the artists impression of his choosen subject.  A fine painting in contemporary style representing the sunset. As the artist has used traditional materials to paint with this work has many depths.

‘He tragically suffered in a very serious accident as a young man and almost lost his life. He was left unable to care for himself and has spent most of the last twenty years in Charters Towers growing up painting the stories of Mornington Island and visiting now and then to stay in touch with family.

Jonathon has recently returned to live on the island full time and now paints with us at the Art Centre. It is wonderful see Jonathon’s participate as he always wears a big smile on his face and loves to paint and be part of the MIAAC art gang’.   Brett Evans, for Jonathon Toby (Copyright Mornington Island Art & Craft)