Koskela Gallery & Warmun Art Centre present Ngaboo-lang

Artist 
Rammey Ramsey & Kathy Ramsey
Exhibition 
Ngaboo-lang
Year 
6 March-18 April,2018

Opening March 6th 2021, The Koskela Gallery is pleased to present, Ngaboo-lang, a series of works by father-daughter painting duo, Rammey Ramsey and Kathy Ramsay. Marking their first collaborative series, Ngaboo-lang depicts Warlawoon Country land which Rammey has painted for decades. Through his practice, Rammey now passes on these motifs to his daughter, Kathy.

Ngaboo-lang is a Gija phrase meaning two people who call themselves father and child. Set to be popular with collectors, this must-see exhibition will be showing at Koskela's Rosebery Gallery. Celebrate with us on March 6th by bringing a loved one along to the gallery to redeem a free coffee on us from the Three Blue Ducks.

Rammey and Kathy are Gija artists living in the Juwurlinji community (Bow River), north of Warlawoon. Their works are forever imbued with the memory and longing for Warlawoon. Beyond depictions of place, this series of paintings act as a reminder of the impact of pastoral occupation on Gija homelands.  

Both Rammey and Kathy paint with Warmun Art Centre, which is owned and governed by Gija people of the Eastern Kimberly regions of Western Australia. Warmun Art was established in 1998 and looks to celebrate and encourage the expression of Gija culture through the arts in addition to supporting the ongoing development of emerging and established artists. 100% of income generated by Warmun Arts is returned to the community.

We were lucky enough to interview Kathy, who gave us an insight to her inspirations, art making process and relationship with her father Rammey, as they continue to develop their painting partnership.

How do you and Rammey work on a collaborative painting?

He marks ‘em. He marks it and I just paint it, whatever colour. Sometimes he asks me what colour he like you know, like that, that’s all.

He marks out his country and he just tells me I can paint ‘em.

I paint em ‘and he tell me which area to paint what colour and I do that.

Do you paint Rammey’s Country in the same way that he does?

Same way, how he want it cause that’s his. I don’t know how to do his painting, that’s his own work. If he wants me to paint the way he likes Warlawoon (Rammey’s Country of birth), the way he used to do, he wants me to do it and I can do it, so it’s up to him.

How did you learn to paint?

Well I really had it in me. 

I started off with little papers. I knew how to paint, it's a hidden talent that I had. I look at my elders, how they used to paint, my grandfather, my mum and dad. How they used to be painting for Jirrawun Arts (a now defunct Art Centre which operated out of Bow River for a short period of time) but we know how to do it ‘cause I come from a culture of strong people, leaders, Paddy Bedford my ganggayi (grandfather). They became famous old people. And it’s just passing down knowledge to us, I been know how to paint.

Why did you start painting together?

Because he asked me to. To help him.

I never seen his country Warlawoon because we been born this side, my mother’s side.

My grandfather when he moved into Bow River, he brought dad there to work for him back in the days. So that’s where he met up with my mum.

Never seen his country he just tells us the story, my dad. Only my big brother, he used to work all round doing station work you know and he knows that country. Not us, we just lately, we the youngest see. We are the baby ones. He got a beautiful country.

Like I said, I don’t know his country. He’s too old to go out there and I’ve never been there. It’s how I connect with him through his art.

What’s the happiest memory you have with your Dad?

When my dad was a stockman. And me as a growing up child in Bow River watching him.

When he had a buck with a horse I been there standing on the fence in the yard. My dad’s horse never did defeat my dad and we were all there. And that’s why he has trouble with his back now, horse problems. Good hard worker, he was a horse breaker my dad.

Never talk about it, they been just live you know. Live like that, we know where we was connected.

That’s why my grandfather chose him and he came over to Bow River and met my mum and there was eight of us children. 

Do you listen to music or look at films and books, or other artist’s work when you paint?

Well, my family are corroboree people. My grandfather, my mother, my ganggayi Paddy Bedford, even dad, he don’t actually show off with his thing, he sits alone in his own world and he likes to sing.

He normally sing Garluwarra and a lot of cultural lore he learn from his ancestors and his family passed it down and we know how to dance his lore the way we been taught. Used to dance lore, women’s dance, women and men dance, we know how to dance all them. I think about that when I paint but it’s in the past now. My old people are all gone so we don't usually have these things now.

We need them. Only thing we can remember is our Country. Sometimes I paint my family gathering for corroboree, singing, remember them in my art, and my head.

What’s your favourite song?

Country music. Well we really, in the station days, we growing knowing Charley Pride. It’s the only record we had, that’s in the old days and it brings back memories when we hear those songs but he’s passed away now. Lot of good songs in there, he sing a lot of gospel songs, he’s a Christian cowboy.

What’s your best piece of advice?

My piece of advice everyday is go out and not sitting at home. Go out, enjoy your country and it’s really a blessing when we go out, take kids out fishing, enjoy the country, look at the beauty. When it’s dry there’s nothing there really but when it rain time like now it’s really good.

These images have been taken from @warmunart and depict Kathy Ramsay and Tracey Ramsay with a troppy full of artworks (left) and Kathy Ramsay in front of the same troopy with one of her works (right).

Artists Background

Rammey's practice has always included depictions of Warlawoon Country, his mother's and father's country. Using ochre and acrylic pigments, Rammey and Kathy paint the hills, camping places and waterholes of the land. Although minimal in appearance, these artworks are laden in meaning as both artists capture the historic, cultural, and geographic significance of Warlawoon Country.

Warlawoon is between Bedford Downs and Tableland Stations, and is where Rammey grew up.

“This is my place called Warlawoon. They named me Warlawoon for my Country here. There is a Dreamtime Waterhole there, a place where many fish live. This is my mother’s and father’s country. I own that country from my mother and father. Lots of people used to live here with my parents.”  -  Rammey Ramsey

Rammey Ramsey is a senior artist whose work is revered across Australia and internationally. Rammey is heavily influenced by Ngarranggarni (Dreaming) in both his depictions, as well as technique. The Ngarranggarni way to paint is a process of mixing wet in wet of two colours on the surface of the canvas to create the gestural strokes and rhythm of the brush. This is a spiritual process, representing the four elements of life, earth, wind, fire and water.  

Kathy Ramsay has been spotted as one to watch, as one of Warmun Art centres most acclaimed and renowned emerging artists. Painting runs in her blood with both her mother, Mona Ramsey and grandfather, Timmy Timms, and of course her father, Rammey Ramsey having strong reputations for their important pieces of art.

I only just started painting in 2013. I just like to join in and to be sharing a part of my country… My mother (artist Mona Ramsey) and my grandfather (acclaimed artist Timmy Timms), they always told us what this place means, what the names are, those Ngarranggarni (Dreaming) Stories. Now, with this painting, I’ll be the one to tell them to my kids.” - Kathy Ramsay

Download the catalogue HERE

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