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19 facts about Harold Thomas

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By Gwylym Owen

Harold Joseph Thomas (born c. 1947) is an Aboriginal Australian player and dissenter descended from the Luritja people of Central Australia. He is best known for designing and copyrighting the Australian Aboriginal Flag.

Thomas meant the flag in 1971 as a tale of the Aboriginal estate rights movement. In 1995 the flag was made an official “Flag of Australia”. He was later involved in a high-profile dogfight in the Federal Court and the High Court, to acknowledge copyright beyond his design.

In 1965 Thomas won a scholarship to testing at the South Australian School of Art. He graduated like Honours in 1969. He absorbed anything about the archives of art but his main influences were painters Caravaggio, Goya, Delacroix and Turner. He with liked the buoyant treatment achieved by plein freshen painters in late 19th-century Europe. Thomas’s paintings celebrate the landscape and wildlife of Northern Australia. He lives just outside Darwin in the Northern Territory.

Thomas’s oils, acrylics and watercolours are intensely collectable and user-friendly from Territory Colours in Darwin.

In 2016 his painting Tribal Abduction, a scene of an Aboriginal baby being torn by police from its mother’s breast, won the summit prize of $50,000, the Telstra Art Award, in the 33rd Telstra National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Art Awards (NATSIAAs).

In 2010 Thomas was lively in a dispute following Google exceeding its intended use of a 12-year-old Australian girl’s artwork incorporating the Australian Aboriginal Flag into its logo. Thomas refused to permit Google to use the image featuring the flag after negotiations over compensation failed, resulting in a modified design in which the flag was not used. Thomas claimed that Google had opened negotiations in the same way as a demand for forgive use of the flag and, while he allowed release use to non-commercial operations that gave health, educational, legal and new assistance to Aboriginal people, he charged a momentum to poster operations. He described Google’s subsequent provide as a “pittance”.

Thomas has since definite exclusive billboard rights to three companies, “one to reproduce flags, and the others to reproduce the image on objects and clothing”. One of these companies, WAM Clothing, have issued infringement notices to various organisations, including the AFL, NRL, and Aboriginal non-profits.

As of 2021, the Australian management is negotiating behind Thomas hence as to permit more forgive use of the flag.

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