Full Name: Roger William Boona
Art Centre: Kira Kiro Artists
Preferred making method: Painting, drawing, carving and walkabout
When did you start making art?
I started making art when I was four years old, I learned from my Puddha (grandmother). She would take me out bush and show me everything she was doing. We used to cut some narmarrgar (bark) and get sticks to hold the bark straight. We used wires to bore a hole in the narmarrgar. I used to wonder off in the bush and muck around with fire. My Puddha taught me language. Now I only remember a little bit of the language because the English I learnt in school took over my language. I used to sit with my Puddha all day and people interested in her art would visit. I would help her. She asked me to try to paint and I drew a special Wandjina, but she told me to paint it over and not to reveal it. So I drew animals and that is when I first started to draw the yilarra (barramundi). My grandmother’s eldest sons taught me how to carve boab nuts. I was four years old when I carved my first boab nut. It was a Wandjina and I sold it for $20. The next boab was a bit rough, so I only got $5 for it.
After learning bush skills from Puddha, my grandfather taught me dance in wanga and corroberee.
Life changed after that. Everything changed after that. I went to prison, and the system went good with me. The system wanted to know about my art. One of the officers signed me up for the art class, so I could express myself within the system. I learn more about art with other countrymen who were also with me. We all learned together about different art and different cultures. We listened to each other and talked with other and understood each other. I learned to make and paint boomerangs.
What inspires you?
I want to learn more skills and to be a better artist. I am self taught. I learn from the bush and from my culture. I like to tell stories. No one knows the stories that I know. At school, one of the teachers Miss Paulfry showed me how to draw dragons when I was mucking around on a piece of paper. Now I love cartoons and comics like Dragonball Z. I can draw all the characters. I am mucking around mixing them up in my art. I’ll mix anything up. I can mix warriors and animals, if people want.
Tell us about your work in this year’s Revealed?
I love to paint the local animals from the land. When I lived down with my family from Roebourne and Cossack, I painted a dingo and a goanna on a beach. A woman from Italy loved the painting and bought it for $2,000 and I shared the money with my niece. My sister said if I keep painting I will earn money as an artist. I keep developing my technique as an artist. I experiment a lot, but love to paint local animal and local stories. I like to mix up my art with all my influences, like graffiti and comic-style.
What’s up next after Revealed?
It’s boab season soon, so I’ll be carving up boabs for tourist season in Kalumburu. I will go walkabout and bring some back to carve, earn some money and share it with my family. I want to sell more artwork and earn a living from being an artist.
Find out more about Revealed here.