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Jack Cook Jangala

Jack Cook
Born c. 1935

Jack is an Anmatyerre speaker whose country is to the west and north west of Yuendumu. He is now retired and is one of the senior men at Mt Allan where he lives with his family. He is married to Anne Cook Nungarrayi and Rowena Nungurrayi and has five sons (John, Ronnie, Andy, Shane and Josiah) and two daughters (Lisa and Catherine). He has two grandchildren, Kieran (Lisa's son) and Tamika (Ronnie's daughter). He speaks excellent English, which he partly learnt from working for many years with D. D. Smith, manager of Mt Allan station. Jack and D.D. were close friends for all of their lives. Sadly D.D. passed away in 2004.

Jack, like many of the elders, is a very proud man and he treasures the Aboriginal heritage and skills and regularly takes his family out bush to camp and learn traditional skills such as boomerang making and hunting and to teach his sons the important dreaming stories that he paints. Jack remembers and treasures the songs of his people. You can see him singing with Cassidy Japaltjarri here. Like many of the older men Jack worked for many years as a stockman on Mt Allan station before the land was returned to the traditional owners and the last manager left Mt Allan around 1996. Jack was instrumental in the land being handed back to its traditional owners and was one of the main spokesmen that travelled to Canberra to meet the Prime Minister and present their case which hinged on several of the important dreaming sites on Mt Allan station.

Jack's paintings are exceptional.

His use of traditional colours, well executed designs and the small intricate dots make for a spectacular effect and his paintings are very highly sought after. He paints a number of dreamings including water, emu/turkey, wadion, flying ant and snake dreamings. Jack paints the dots with the end of a matchstick and a typical painting can take 4 to 6 weeks to complete. As a result he normally only produces around 4 or 5 paintings per year and most are sold before they are completed which makes them quite difficult to obtain and this is reflected in the steadily increasing price.

Here are some examples of the work by Jack Cook Jangala.

This biography was compiled from my personal visits and time spent with Jack and his family. Additional information can be found in Aboriginal Artists of the Western Desert - A Biograpical Dictionary, by Vivien Johnson