Phyllis Thomas is a Gija woman of Nagarra skin whose bush name, Booljoonngali, means 'big rain coming down with lots of wind'. Phyllis was born at Riyarr on the Turner River, south east of Purnululu. When she was young, she worked on Turner Station. She looked after poultry, gardening, grinding salt and carting water from the well, but often preferred to run away into the bush with the old women to hunt, collect dingo scalps and look for gold.
Phyllis began painting when Freddie Timms set up the Jirrawun Aboriginal Arts group in 1998. Her work achieved almost immediate success, depicting Ngarranggarni (Dreaming) places and bush tucker from Roogoon (Crocodile Hole) area, as well as the country around the middle reaches of the Ord and Turner Rivers. She has also worked extensively with young people on cultural projects that incorporate media and is a key teacher in the language program for young adults at Warmun Art Centre.
Courtesy of Warmun Art & Frances Kofod