Desmond Woodley


Desmond Woodley

1948 – January 2021

Born in 1948, Desmond (Des) Woodley is an Aboriginal artist of Noongar heritage. He has painted at the DADAA Art Studio in Midland since 2004. Encompassing his lived experiences – from time at New Norcia Mission as a child, to working on cattle stations and travelling the vast state of Western Australia – Des’ works are powerful and haunting, conveying his perception of life and place.

Des’ artwork is influenced by the landscapes of his youth growing up in the Wheatbelt (Moora), as well as northern WA where he worked for many years as a musterer. Des also spent significant time in south-west WA. Evident in the palette and subject matter of his works is the cool climate of the southern coast along with the pastural Wheatbelt and the sunburnt landscapes of the Pilbara.

In 2020, Des was in the group exhibition KALYAKOOL at Ellenbrook Arts and Lancelin’s Wangaree Community Centre, which included a collaboration between Des and Tjyllyungoo Lance Chadd. He has a profile in the book Art on the Edge by the Darlington Historical Society, and a small solo exhibition at Regis Greenmount for NAIDOC.

Des’ artwork has featured in a number of significant exhibitions and projects in 2019. This includes DESMOND WOODLEY: Here, there and back again at Ellenbrook Arts, his first solo exhibition, presenting drawings and paintings from 2004 to 2019 along with a film and catalogue publication. A mural of Des’ artwork has been installed at Yagan Square, and animated work presented on the Digital Tower. He was selected for the City of Joondalup Invitation Art Prize, where his work was acquired by the Art Angels. He also exhibited in DANJOO-INTERWOVEN at the Midland Junction Arts Centre and Rockingham Art Centre, and Place and Space at the Mundaring Arts Centre.

In 2018 Des exhibited in Landscapes of the Mind, Shire of Mundaring Art Acquisition Exhibition – Invited, held at the Mundaring Arts Centre. His work was also featured in Removing the Traces: Aspects of Abstraction from the Janet Holmes à Court Collection at Vasse Felix and Collie Art Gallery from 2017-2018. Des was selected to exhibit in Revealed in 2015 at Gallery Central & 2017 at Fremantle Art Centre.

Des also participated in many other important group shows including: Born on Country at the Midland Junction Art Centre in 2016; Wadjuk Dreaming Festival at Atwell Gallery in 2016 & 2017; Walyallup Love Song at Freight Gallery and Wangaree Gallery in 2015; Mine Own Executioner in 2010 at the Mundaring Arts Centre; Coming Together at Ellenbrook Arts in 2007; and DADAA’s annual NAIDOC and In Focus exhibitions.

Des has works in The Holmes à Court, City of Perth, DADAA and AGWA art collections, and has piqued the interest of many other artists and collectors through the years due to his unique style and compelling stories told through his works.