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Tex Skuthorpe - Artist Profile

NAIDOC National Aboriginal Artist of the Year 1990/91

TEX SKUTHORPE, an Aboriginal artist from Goodooga north western NSW, was privileged to be taught his people’s traditional culture by the Noonghaburra elders from Noonghal country. Being the eldest boy of the Emu and Sand Goanna totems gave Tex the responsibility to teach and record Noonghaburra law.

Traditionally, all recording was in art form and law was communicated to young people through initiation, dance, stories and art. As such, all Tex’s artwork incorporates a story – some are traditional stories and others, such as his environment work, tell the story of more contemporary issues.

The diversity of Aboriginal art reflects the diversity of the Australian landscape. Tex’s designs are unique to Noonghal country, his traditional land. Before Tex could paint Noonghaburra stories, the elders told him to find his designs in the bush. The circular design, which is such a strong feature of many of his paintings, was found only after months of searching. This pattern was revealed to Tex after cutting a small piece of bark from a Coolabah tree, and leaving it to dry. He found the circular tracks of a small insect, which helps to clean the tree.

Before Tex could use the insect’s design, he was required to show respect, by understanding its entire lifecycle – how it lived, what it needed for survival, its relationship to other people’s totems and how and why it made the design on the tree. Tex was taught that the depiction of any animal or plant required this level of intense study.

This whole process of truly experiential learning created in Tex an intimate, holistic and highly practical understanding of his country and his place within it as well as a deep sense of responsibility to use the knowledge with wisdom and respect.

NAIDOC national aboriginal artist of the year 1990/91

The combination of aesthetics and meaning in Tex’s art was one of the major contributors to his winning this prestigious award. The award was a National Award, with votes coming from judging panels of Aboriginal artists and experts in every State and Territory (including Northern Territory and Western Australia).

International recognition

In 1994 Tex presented a piece of work – “Tomodachi” (meaning “Friend”) - to the Emperor of Japan, which is now in his private collection and destined to become part of the National Treasure of Japan. Tex was given the Emperor’s approval to use his private seal in any artwork – an honour previously only given to the most highly acclaimed artists within Japan.

As a result of this privilege, Tex was commissioned to paint a series of artworks for an exhibition in Sydney by two Japanese Incubana Masters. These stunning paintings combine traditional stories from Japan and Noonghal country and are painted on Japanese rice paper and mounted on traditional silk scrolls measuring 1 metre x 2.5 metres.

Examples of exhibitions & works purchased

National Gallery
Australian Museum
Old Parliament House
Opera House
New Parliament House
Office of Minister for Aboriginal Affairs, Canberra
Perspecta 99
Japanese Cultural Centre – Incubana Exhibition
Construction in Process – The Bridge, Melbourne