Toowong, Takarakka Nowan Kas Publications, in association with The Australian Centre, University of Melbourne, 2000.
Oblong folio, [vi], xiv, 464 pages with over 2000 illustrations and over 620 colour plates.
Synthetic leather with a colour plate mounted on the front cover; small private library stamp on the front flyleaf ('From the library of / the Australian Decorative & / Fine Arts Society / Sunshine Coast Inc.'); a few tiny creases to the corner tips of a few leaves; essentially an unread copy, now housed in a slipcase (contrasting three quarter maroon and black cloth, separated by a thin gilt cord) custom-made to the highest standards.
An unparalleled 'visual record of ancient Kimberley rock art, dealing specifically with periods predating the Ice Age' - and an absolute rarity. Grahame Walsh died in 2007, aged 62; an insight into the nature of the man and this book may be found in this extract from his obituary by Nicolas Rothwell, published in 'The Australian', 24 August 2007. It was in the Kimberley that Walsh 'encountered the two art traditions that would dominate his later years. The Bradshaw rock paintings are ancient and extend across an arc of the north Kimberley. They depict graceful figures engaged in display or hunt. The Wandjina paintings, much more recent, mark the last crescendo of Kimberley Aboriginal art. In their best-known form, they show round, wide-eyed faces surrounded by ghostly halo circles. To Walsh, both these traditions had an intense appeal. Backed by private sponsors, he prepared the first large book on the Bradshaws. It appeared in 1994. By this stage, Walsh was becoming a figure of notoriety in the academic rock art world. It was plain he was a field photographer of brilliance and a persistent finder of lost sites. But he was without formal qualifications and his somewhat controversy-courting ideas about pre-Aboriginal civilisations in the far north triggered a storm of predictable fury. The result was a damaging split between Walsh and the academy: damaging, arguably, for both sides. Walsh had found a fresh forum for his ideas and a wider audience. Perhaps, in all the twisting course of his life, no turn was stranger than the one that brought him into contact, and friendship, with the leaders of Australia's legal and corporate worlds. Unusual backers began funding his research. He was especially close to Dame Elisabeth Murdoch and Maria Myers, to both of whom he dedicated his masterpiece, 'Bradshaw Art of the Kimberley', a vast, unclassifiable book, part photographic essay, part speculative anthropology, bound in purple mock-crocodile skin. A photograph of the author glowers from the frontispiece: he sits, a pair of cameras at the ready, beside a Bradshaw panel, wearing his favourite battered black Akubra, souvenired from the aftermath of a bar-room brawl in Camooweal. It is clear today that 2000, when the 'purple crocodile' was published, marked the moment of Walsh's greatest difficulty as well as the first pinnacle of his public renown. Protests from Kimberley Aboriginal groups angered by his interpretation of the Bradshaw style redoubled; rock art experts resented his refusal to share his data or provide access to sites he knew. But the overwhelming detail collected in 'Bradshaw Art' and the depth of his knowledge of the tradition made their own case. It became impossible to deny that Walsh, through his solitary efforts, had uncovered a vast, half-forgotten realm of indigenous art'. THIS COPY IS SIGNED AND DATED BY THE AUTHOR 'To Sue, with best wishes from the Kimberley. Grahame L. Walsh. 18.8.2000'. The book is scarce on the open market these days; signed copies are rarely offered.