Alan Griffiths

Alan Griffiths is respected as a leading senior lawman with authority throughout the Victoria River and Kimberley regions. His arts practice is multifaceted interpreting both his cultural status and knowledge alongside more lighthearted images expressing his joy in cultural traditions and station life. Alan Griffiths is an accomplished painter, wood-carver, maker of cultural artefacts, songman and dancer. Born at Victoria River Downs Station, Northern Territory in 1933 he has worked in stations across the top end. His broad station experience has included living and working as head stockman on Beswick Station, Katherine, Elsey Station near Mataranka in the Territory, Maninbelli Station, Elizabeth Downs, Delamere and Willaroo. Moving onto Wyndham, Western Australia, Alan worked as a plumber before settling on Newry Station, again as a stockman as well as a cook. In 1965 he settled in Kununurra, living at Ivanhoe Station operating a tractor on a cotton farm. Alan is married to his ‘promised bride’, Peggy Griffiths, and has five children, 27 grandchildren and many great grandchildren. After his retirement from farm work in the early 1980s Alan began painting his country, mapping the significant features and cultural stories of the land. His repertoire of images includes paintings that map and name country reflecting the artist’s intimate knowledge of a vast country as well as documents of traditional stories and corroborees, cattle mustering and camel treks. Painted in natural ochres and pigments, his traditional stories are characterized by series of small figures “dotting” the canvas and are presented as playful, joyous celebrations of his life and cultural commitments. His mapping and naming of country is not only evidence of his knowledge of country, his authority in culture and ultimately his ownership of his traditional lands. Alan is a leading performer at traditional events. Together with his wife Peggy Griffiths, he is dedicated to teaching traditional dances to his community and family. Alan is a respected law and culture man for both his traditional country near Timber Creek and for Miriwoong culture in Kununurra.

In 2015 Alan was awarded a State Living Treasure by the Western Australian Department of Culture and the Arts.  Awarded usually every 10 years, Alan was selected for his lifetime contribution towards art and culture.