Yalatji (Jack’s given name at birth) was born and raised in the bush in the Tickalara area just south of Turkey Creek and west of the Bungle Bungles, and he resided at Frog Hollow. His memories include sitting with family in the hills and seeing white people for the first time and of the camel wagon trains and their Afghan drivers with supplies for the outstations.
Jack Britten, a white manager of Hann Springs cattle station, took young Yalatji under his wing and bestowed his name on him and taught him the basics of station life. Jack’s horsemanship was legendary, and he worked as a stockman on many East Kimberley cattle stations. He participated in some of the last big cattle drives from Mt. Isa, in Queensland, bringing herds of up to two thousand animals, all the way back to the Kimberleys and in doing so crossed Australia from east to west.
As a senior lawman, his repertoire of the myths and legends of the gnarangani (Dreamtime) is endless and provides a firm base for his very visual and descriptive canvasses. Jack is the latest in the line of succession of traditional owners of the Bungle Bungles.
Jack’s work depicts the textured ochre painting that has characterised work of the Kimberleys. In particular, Jack’s work reflects detailed perspective of his Bungle Bungle country.
National Gallery of Australia, Canberra
National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne
Art Gallery of New South Wales,Sydney
Art Gallery of the Northern Territory, Darwin
Gifu Museum, Japan
The Holmes a Court Collection, Perth
The Kelton Foundation, Los Angeles, USA