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Sketchbook of drawings of the Nyikina people, by Butcher Joe Nangan

2001.0038.0001

Sketchbook of drawings of the Nyikina people, by Butcher Joe Nangan

Object information

Physical description

A ringbound sketchbook containing 13 bound pencil drawings and one loose pencil drawing, depicting the traditional law and stories of the Nyikina people of Western Australia. Each of the drawings have been created with grey pencil on cream coloured paper. The sketchbook has a cream coloured cardboard cover. The front cover has printed green graphics which read 'SPIROFLEX' and 'SKETCH PAD / No. 122'. Handwritten in pencil in the top left corner is the name '[BUTCHER?] JOE / NANGAN. The ringbinding is damaged at the top and base of the spine, and the cover and internal pages of the sketchbook are slightly discoloured.

Statement of significance

This collection consists of a sketchbook of thirteen drawings, one loose drawing, two reel tapes and documentation associated with the drawings. The drawings depict the traditional law and stories of the Nyikina people of Western Australia and were created by Butcher Joe Nangan (c.1902-1989). The tapes record Nangan's 'Mayarda' (Pelican) dance and a January 1972 interview with Nangan about the stories illustrated in ten of the drawings. The stories associated with the other four drawings are related in notes that accompanied the sketchbook.

Joe Nangan became known as 'Butcher Joe' after he worked as a butcher at the Beagle Bay Mission, 180 km north of Broome, in the 1930s. He began to create art in the 1950s, when he started to engrave pearl shells and boab nuts. These were eagerly sought after by tourists and ethnographers. His works on paper only became known from the 1970s as contemporary Aboriginal art gained a national audience. His work was motivated by a concern to record the traditional law and stories of his people, as much cultural knowledge had been lost during his lifetime because of the massive disruption caused by settlement.

Object information

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