Joe Rootsey: Queensland Aboriginal Artist 1918–63

By Bruce McLean, Diane Hafner

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Joe Alimindjin Rootsey was one of the first Indigenous people in Queensland to be recognised as a contemporary artist. An inveterate sketcher, his artistic leanings were discovered by medical social worker Joan Innes Reid during a period of hospitalisation in north Queensland in the mid 1950s. In 1958, he began classes at Brisbane’s Central Technical College, then the leading art school in Queensland. While he wanted ‘to make something of it’, his art career was shadowed by ill health and government intervention. His paintings were a window onto another Australia — his own country on Cape York.

This book is richly illustrated with works by Rootsey and includes essay contributions from curator Bruce McLean and anthropologist Dr Diane Hafner, which explore, respectively, Rootsey’s life as a stockman and his career as an artist, and the social and political conditions prevailing at the time. This is the first publication on the artist, whose work was first shown to acclaim in the Queensland Art Gallery’s exhibition ‘Story Place: Indigenous Art of Cape York and the Rainforest’ in 2003.

80 pages
Paperback Colour & B&W Illustrations