Tjyllyungoo – Lance Chadd – Biography

Lance Chadd, a Nyoongar Aboriginal artist from the southwest town of Bunbury, paints under his traditional tribal name Tjyllyungoo ( Old Man ). The landscape paintings represent the artist’s personal claim of spiritual unity with the land, rather than political restitution of Aboriginal land ownership. It is this very genuine and authentic emotional involvement that lends to Tjyllyungoo's paintings their special appeal and poignancy, and which renders them highly accessible to any responsive audience. His breathtaking work is highly acclaimed in Australia, America and Japan. The artist has painted professionally since 1981 and his works are in many collections worldwide and locally including the Art Gallery of Western Australia and the Berndt Museum Collection.

Tjyllyungoo's artistic endeavours were encouraged from an early age by his association with family members who were well known landscape painters. His uncles Allan Kelly and Reynold Hart were artists of the famous Carrolup Mission, and their style of depicting bush landscape has provided a great influence on Tjyllyungoo's art. Other notable early influences were the artists Albert Namatjira and Hans Heysen. The manner in which all these artists render their landscape is rooted in the realistic landscape style that employs perspectival space and tonal definition of forms. It is a style that differs immensely from the popular and predominant Central Desert idioms, and because of this, Tjyllyungoo's works offer a most refreshing alternative to what has now become a dubious and misrepresentative stereotype. His works attest to the variety of styles now prevalent among Aboriginal artists and show us that not all Aboriginal artists paint abstract flat surfaces with dot designs and motifs.

Tjyllyungoo explains how the stories of the Dreamtime are told by the fire at night with the intimate feel and sounds of the bush. We can see in his landscapes an ability to not only represent evocative images but also to suggest the sounds, pulsations and unseen forces of the bush by mastering the use of his medium. The artist's formidable technical skill with the medium of watercolour for example enables him to suggest different passages of light and shadow, to render a parched earth or the brittle tactility of a gnarled dead tree, to suggest the evanescent mists of late night or early morning, and to evoke mood and mystery suffused with imagined sounds of wind, didgeridoos or perhaps night's eerie hum. Thus the artist achieves a truly synaesthetic effect that encourages the viewer to emotionally participate as well as aesthetically apprehend the picture.


His paintings are the live recordings of 40 plus years of serious cultural heritage research that continues today. Unique style of acrylics, layering depths of transparency and light, capture the ambiance and  spiritual expressions of  the stories, traditions and customs of his people. These ‘recordings on canvas’ are held with pride and high regard among the Nyoongar Nation as both teaching and sharing of culture.