Published: May 2017
The paintings of Shane Pickett show the transformations of Nyoongar country, the country of Australia's South-West, in breathtaking and ever-changing images.Shane Pickett (1957-2010) grew up on a small Aboriginal mission in the Wheatbelt agricultural region east of Perth. From an early age Pickett suffered from ill health, but showed an immediate aptitude for drawing and painting. He held his first exhibition in Perth in 1976, at the age of 19. Over a three-decade career, Pickett's work transformed from detailed landscape paintings reminiscent of Albert Namatjira into a groundbreaking and expressive form of gestural abstraction. He developed a new visual language to represent the cornerstones of Nyoongar culture: the pathways of ancestors, traditional healing practices and places, and especially the six Nyoongar seasons. He would sometimes describe his paintings as 'windows into the Dreaming', and the strength of his culture is delivered all through his work with brilliant, lyrical intensity. Exploring not only physical healing but also healing of environmental destruction and the wounds of colonisation, his paintings show the persistence of Nyoongar ways of seeing the country.
His Nyoongar name, Meeyakba, or 'soft light of the moon', captures the gentle spirit of an artist who set a beacon for those who follow him. He is remembered as the preeminent Nyoongar artist of his time and one of the great painters of the Western Australian landscape. Shane Pickett Meeyakba surveys Shane Pickett's works from the beauty of his early landscapes through to his late, magisterial abstractions. The book presents Pickett's voice alongside those of his family and peers, with essays from art historian Ian McLean, historian Anna Haebich, curator Henry F. Skerritt and gallerist Diane Mossenson. The large-format monograph, beautifully produced and richly illustrated, is edited and introduced by Nick Tapper, and designed by Allison Colpoys.