Meet the Artist

Jack Dale Mengenen

Jack Dale Mengenen




Skin name




Western Australia

Jack Dale Mengenen, Ngarinyin senior lawman was born in the bush on Mount House Station, circa 1922 and lived in Derby, Western Australia. He died peacefully in Derby in 2013.

He was Kimberley history personified. His mother, Moddera, was an indigenous woman traditional to the Komaduwah clan estate that falls within the Mount House pastoral lease. Jack’s father, who died when Jack was a small boy, was a hard-living frontiersman who reputedly died (unlamented) as violently as he lived.

After a lifetime as a stockman, retirement sat heavily on Jack, and in the last few years, he has started to document his own rich cultural history and significant historical events in the Kimberley through his paintings.

There are no records of his birth. He was born at a time when it was common to kill the babies of indigenous women who were fathered by white men, either by the orders of the father, or by senior members of the mother’s clan concerned about possible disruption to tradition and social order in the future. It is uncertain why Jack’s life was spared. Following the death of his father, he grew up in the bush with his mother’s father, learning about traditional law and the ways of the hunter-gatherer, with a constant threat of being abducted by police and placed in an institution.

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For most of his life Jack worked as a stockman and was greatly revered amongst old stockmen as a skilled, tough uncompromising man who was never thrown from a horse or beaten by a beast. He has seen many changes in the pastoral industry which he greatly resents and laments.
In recent times Jack has sought to rediscover and relive his experience of bush life through his art. The modern history of the Kimberley is portrayed in Jack’s work. Images of Afghan camel traders and early missionaries, the stark lines of chained Aboriginal men being marched to Boab prison trees and images of Wandjinas, the most powerful spirit ancestors of the Northern Kimberley. Jack paints mainly with traditional earth pigments (ochres) but also at times also uses acrylic paints.

Private collections: Europe, USA, London, Melbourne, Sydney, Perth.

Solo Exhibitions:
2000 “Jack Dale- Senior Law Man”, Flinders Lane Gallery, Melbourne
2001 “Jack Dale-Djumba Ceremonies”, Flinders Lane Gallery, Melbourne
2002 “Jack Dale – Kimberley History”, Vivien Anderson Gallery, Melbourne
2003 “Jack Dale” Kintolai Gallery, Adelaide
2004 “Jack Dale – Narrungunni Dreamplaces” Japingka Gallery, Perth
2004 “Jack Dale – Jalala” (Marking Stones) Vivien Anderson Gallery,
2006 “Jack Dale” Framed – The Darwin Gallery, Darwin
2006 “Jack Dale – A Kimberley History” Japingka Gallery, Perth
2006 “Jack Dale – Jalala Marking Stones” Coo-ee Aboriginal Art, Sydney
2007 “Jack Dale – Kimberley Personified” Art Mob Aboriginal Art, Hobart
2007 “Jack Dale – The Stockman & the Medicine Man” Japingka Gallery
2008 “Jack Dale” – Flinders Lane Gallery, Melbourne
2008 “Jack Dale Mengenen” – Artistry Galleries, Melbourne 2008
2011 “ Jack Dale Mengenen” –Japingka Gallery, Perth 2011
Internationally – London and France.

Group Exhibitions
2001 “Kimberley Works”, Burrinja Gallery, Melbourne
2001 “Wandjina”, Coo-ee Gallery, Sydney
2002 Group Show – Art Mob, Hobart
2002 Group Show – Michel Sourgnes Fine Arts, Brisbane
2002 Group Show – Burrinja Gallery, Melbourne
2003 “Contemporary Masters”, Burrinja Gallery, Melbourne
2004 Group Show – Art Mob, Hobart.
2006 Group Show – Burrinja Gallery, Melbourne
2006 Group Show – Art Mob, Hobart

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