Hughie Ah Won bio

d.o.b: 1965

Birthsite:                              Barkley Tablelands, NT

Language/Tribal Group:         Wunambul / Djubidja 

“My name is Hughie Ah Won, I am a Wunambul man, my skin is Djubidja. I paint the Wandjina and stories that were told to me from my elders of the Wunambul tribal. I paint these stories hoping to pass them onto the younger generation of the Kimberley region”.



Hughie Ah Won was born on Creswell Downs Station, Barkley Tablelands, NT in 1965.  His father was working as a stockman on the station at the time.  Hughie’s father, Edward Ahwon was from Spring Creek Station, WA and his mother, Gracie Ned was from Borroloola in the Northern Territory.

Hughie, his brother Robert and sisters Susan, Marjorie and Audrey grew up and went to school in Wyndham.  After Hughie finished school he worked as both a stockman and a house painter for several years before commencing work in government departments such as Aboriginal Legal Services and Children’s Services.  

Incredibly, given the depth of his talent, Hughie only started painting seriously in 2007. His inspiration to paint came from the old boab carvers in Wyndham. They hadn’t had the eduction that Hughie had, but they had life experience and incredible talent. His mentor was Octa Carroll (father of senior ochre artist Tommy Carroll) and then Alan Carroll and Leslie Evans.

Hughie realised that people in Wyndham were interested in his artworks and started selling locally and in Kununurra for Waringarri Arts in 2008.   In 2009 Hughie and his family moved to Adelaide temporarily where he entered an art competition for the creation of a calendar and his work was chosen to be represented for the month of April.

In early 2010, keen to learn more of the technical aspects of painting, Hughie moved to Cairns where there is a huge art culture.  Recognising his immense talent, a local gallery started working directly with Hughie.  As well as painting his incredible artworks, Hughie also produced stunning etchings and lino cuts.

Hughie now resides in Kununurra, East Kimberley with his family.  Inspired by his country, he continues to create his amazing works.

The Art of Hughie Ah Won

Urban Wandjina - the Unique Art of Hughie Ah Won


Hughie Ah Won has had a colourful life.  


He comes from the beautiful hot red land of The Kimberley in far north Western Australia, and has travelled vast tracts of the country, towns and cities of Australia. He has always taken the stories and Spirits of his culture with him to these urban places - the Wandjina have shared his journey. 


Hughie has returned to his homeland of The Kimberley and now paints his stories and the Dreamtime Spirits to pass on to the younger generation of his people.   His works exude colour - both aesthetically and spiritually in the way he represents how the stories and Spirits are woven into the country and into the cities.  The Wandjina are at home in the quiet of the Kimberley, however, whilst enjoying the curiosities of the city, they are eager to share with the urban culture stories of their existence and traditions and also reminders to “pull over” and “learn to be still”.  Hughie Ah Won presents these stories and reminders by way of his exhibition “URBAN WANDJINA”.

King Sisters Pop Art

The exhibition of paintings by Sarrita and Tarisse King opened last night.  There were a lot of new works and new styles by these amazing artists who are forever evolving with thought provoking paintings that, not only have a huge depth of knowledge about the country, but also relate really well to viewers who stand in awe of some of the huge canvases.   

Pommery Champagne commissioned Sarrita to paint a special series of works.  These paintings featured on a new art label on their latest champagne bottles.  Both the paintings and the bottles are on display in the foyer at the Hilton Hotel.  More works on level 4 in the gallery.


Earth Cycles

The paintings by SarritaandTarisse King can tell us a lot about the country that the two sisters grew up in.  Their father, the late Bill King Jangala, taught his daughters about the countryside, the philosophies and about their ancestors.

The elements also played an important role in the education of the two sisters, Fire and Water feature heavily in works by both of the sisters.

Fire was the element that connected Tarisse to her ancestors and in turn her ancestors to the earth.  The heat of the fire can be felt in her artworks and it is this feeling of warmth that her father said would be the same sensation her ancestors had experienced thousands of years ago.

Water with it's life giving properties connects her to her father.  Tarisse captures the movement and shimmer of the water as seen from above through her varied tonal use of blues and whites.

Sarrita King paints the Earth Cycles, her father passed these down to her, teaching her about the connection between all people and the world around them.

Water with its different geographical formations inspired Sarrita to seek and mimic the movement of this life-giving element.  Listening to her father explain the dire importance of water to the Aboriginal people and culture, Sarrita feel that this element also connects her to her father.


 View artworks by Tarisse King

View artworks by Sarrita King

Aboriginal artist Shorty Jangala Robertson now on site

Three new artworks have been added on site.  This amazing desert artist, who lives and paints at Yuendumu lived the life as a child of a desert nomad and had next to no contact with white-man until the Conniston massacre.  Shorty's father took him and his family to Mt Theo to hide from being short, when his father died his mother took him to Yuendumu. more about this artist

Shorty's paintings have been exhibited both nationally and internationally at numerous exhibitions, he is one of the true icons of Australian Aboriginal art.

see paintings by this artist

Language groups of Aboriginal people

Aboriginal families and groups have different names for the areas of country where they have lived for generations, they do not go by the State names as we know it.

Aboriginal people also go by the name of that area where they and their families have lived.

If we go by each State as we know it, the equivalent area would also stretch beyond those boundaries.

Victoria - Koorie

New South Wales - Koori, Goorie, Coorie, Murri, Koorie

South Australia - Nunga, Nyungar, Nyoongah

West Australia - Nyungar, Nyoongar

Northern Territory - Yolngu (Arnhem Land or Top End) Anangu (Centre)

Queensland - Murri

Tasmania - Koori, Palawa


Aboriginal people also will refer to themselves and their families by the areas of country that they have lived in for generations.

Bundjalung - Yamba, Grafton, Gold Coast

Dunghutti/Thungutti - Kempsey

Eora - sydney, La Perouse

Kamilaroi/Gamilaraay/Gomeroi - Goondiwindi, Tamworth, Lightning Ridge

Tharawal/Dharawal - Woolongong, Kiama

Wiradjuri - Gilgandra, Dubbo, Wagga Wagga, Bathurst

Aboriginal Art Thrives in the Top End

Visual Arts

Aboriginal art thrives at Top End of the market

Tommy Watson

Tommy Watson with one of his grand-scale works of art in his country near Alice Springs. `Everything is on a big scale out there in the desert,' says arts adviser Ken McGregor. Picture: Steve Strike Source: TheAustralian

MENTION Aboriginal art these days and you're likely to hear a lot of doom and gloom.

The global financial crisis, Labor's resale royalty scheme and its changes to superannuation really knocked the bottom out of the market, dealers say.

But not the top, it seems.

In galleries around the country, high value works, often large ones, are selling swiftly.

"There's a bevy of artists whose work is trading at prices above what we saw prior to the downturn -- I would say at record prices for these artists in private sales," Russell Roberts, director of Piermarq Art Advisory in Sydney, says.

Respected art valuer Brenda Colahan thinks sales have improved markedly in the past six months.

"The top end is finding a market, perhaps privately, not at auction," she says.

The most popular works tend to be by elderly desert artists, people who grew up in the bush before contact with Western civilisation.

"People recognise there's a direct association between these works and a culture that's 40,000 years old and potentially coming to an end," Roberts says.

Ken McGregor, an author and art adviser, argues many of the best paintings now being produced are monumental or very large. "Everything is on a big scale out there in the desert," he says.

"There's something expansive that really lends itself to huge work.

"Some of these paintings are really breathtaking." McGregor curated a show of works by the desert artist Tommy Watson at Metro Gallery in Melbourne, including one five-metre piece priced at more than $800,000.

One of the biggest proponents of monumental works is Chris Simon of Yanda Aboriginal Art, who represents Watson and looks after him while he paints.

"The downturn during the GFC was probably the best thing that could've happened to my business," he says.

"It got rid of all of the small dealers who encouraged artists to paint more than they were capable of doing to high quality."

He says he has since been able to coax the best artists to produce fewer, larger works that he hopes will provide a cultural record.

There has long been a tension between private dealers such as Simon and the government-run art centres that dot the outback and keep many artists employed.

Desert Mob, a highly regarded exhibition of work primarily from art centres, opened in Alice Springs this week. Art centre works tend to dominate competitions and public gallery shows.

McGregor says even though many art centre operators are his friends, he thinks they don't always focus enough on quality.

"The best work is really being produced outside art centres," he says.

Dealers say most of the top end works, selling for prices from $10,000 to $130,000 and up, are going into private collections in Australia and overseas.

McGregor thinks more should be going to institutions.

Spectatular paintings

If you want to see some of the most outstanding paintings ever done, then the works by Tommy Watson would have to be on your "must see" list. 



The incredible attention to detail is reflected in every painting created. The fusion of colour, texture and form allow you to experience his country as it's depicted on canvas.



Visit us in Melbourne

Red Desert Dreamings Gallery is located on the Yarra River, level 4 at the Hilton Hotel.  

If you're interested in Aboriginal art, a serious collector or just want to learn more about our amazing indigenous culture then please come and visit us.  The art gallery is open throughout the week and there is someone in the gallery most of the time, but if you want to be certain a gallery member is there, give us a call, as we're always happy to talk with you about our favourite topic, Australian Aboriginal art and culture.

The gallery has a huge collection of Aboriginal art, it was started by Kevin and Jenny Winward, both serious art collectors.  Whilst the gallery does specialize in art from the centre and western desert regions of Australia, it also has an excellent collection of Aboriginal art from Arnhemland or Top End Art (as it's often known by), art from the Tiwi Is as well as the Kimberley in the far west of Australia.

The Dalai Lama's visit to Red Desert Dreamings gallery with Kevin, Jenny, Lucas and Sam Winward.

Red Desert Dreamings supports the artists and their communities.  Aboriginal art has become popular world-wide helping many artists who want to remain in their community earn their living thru art.

Red Desert Dreamings holds  art exhibitions regularly, join our mailing list if you want to be advised when they're on.  Apart from the gallery where Aboriginal art is exhibited throughout the year and open 7 days a week, we often take over the foyer at the Hilton Hotel, where we're located, so you can browse many of our artworks there.

Artists such as Ronnie Tjampitjinpa, Clifford Possum, Mitjili, Minnie Pwerle, Turkey Tolson and Walangkura all are represented at Red Desert Dreamings, old masters that hold a special place in a serious art collector or investor's heart.  These senior elders of the Aboriginal desert mob helped to put Aboriginal art on the world map and some are still alive and painting.

Amongst the rising stars of the Aborigianal art world are Tarisse and Sarrita King whose contemporary works depict the Dreamtime stories going back over 40,000 years.  The works by these two sisters are still very much in the "affordable" price bracket for most purchasers. 

Many collectors are now enthusiastically purchasing these two artists' works.  Their paintings show knowledge passed down to them by their father and go back thousands of years, their paintings are fully resolved, but definately have that contemporary edge that bridge the gap between traditional Aboriginal art and modern day paintings.   The future for these two sister's is looking extremely bright.

If you're after a special painting for your home, office, boardroom or perhaps wedding gift or something special for an overseas guest then Red Desert Dreamings can certainly help you.   We not only have an art gallery full of amazing works, but also a stockroom with many more paintings waiting to be appreciated by new owners.

Traditional Aboriginal Art

Aboriginal people traditionally painted on rock, on the body and in the sand  to tell the stories of their ancestors and their creation stories.

Aboriginal Rock Art

Aboriginal rock paintings appear on cave walls all over Australia.  The best-known are in the Kimberley area of West Australia.  This is probably the oldest art form.  The Wandjina, the ultimate creator,  hunting scenes and the Bradshaw figures or Mimi Spirits are found on many cave walls going back over 40,000 years.  This art form tells us about the activities, the spiritual beliefs and the social activity of the people of the time.


Aboriginal Bark Paintings

Painted on the bark harvested from trees.  The bark is first soaked in water and then smoked to create a flat shape for painting.  Bark was also used to make everything from  baskets to canoes.  Most bark works come from Arnhemland and northern West Australia.


Aboriginal Dot Paintings

These paintings come from the centre and western desert areas where dots, using acrylic paint are used to create and depict plants, animals, waterholes and land forms.  Originally done in ochre's the Aboriginal desert artists moved onto acrylic paints when they were introduced to them by the missionaries. 

Aboriginal Aerial paintings

 Many paintings of country are viewed from above, "bird's-eye view".  Painted by the artist sitting on the ground, they have been created with an intimate knowledge of land and tell the Dreamtime creation stories of the plants, animals, earth cycles and landscape.


Aboriginal Carvings and sculpture

Weapons such as spears for fishing, hunting and fighting were created out of stone and wood.  Coolamuns, baskets for food gathering and small animal and bird figures  were also carved out of the local wood.  Necklaces and other adornments worn for ceremony were made out of feathers and seeds.  Bush string to bind things together was made out of fibres from plants.  These fibres were also used to weave baskets.



The traditional wind instruments from North East Arnhemland were created out of a tree branch that was hollowed out by termites,  They were cut down and shaped to a long hollow instrument used in ceremony by the men.



Symbols were drawn in the sand as maps showing the young initiates where to find waterholes, food and teach about hunting and how to recognize animal tracks.

Some very elaborate sand paintings were used for ceremony, they took days and days to create and once the ceremony was over were destroyed.