Bruce James Wright has recently passed away, as announced on 22 January 2018.
The following has been prepared by Moya Smith, on behalf of Alec Coles, of the Western Australian Museum, and reposted here with permission.
From 1975 until 1982 Bruce was the second Registrar of the Department of Aboriginal Sites, which was at that stage a department within the Western Australian Museum. Prior to his appointment as Registrar, Bruce was an Honorary Associate of the WA Museum, and renowned for his pioneering studies of Aboriginal rock art in the Pilbara region undertaken with the close involvement of Aboriginal community members. Initially employed as a teacher, then headmaster, before joining the WA Museum, Bruce was Superintendent of Curriculum for the WA Education Department.
His friendships with local Roebourne Aboriginal Elders motivated what is perhaps his major publication, Rock Art of the Pilbara region, North west Australia, Occasional Papers in Aboriginal Studies No. 11, published in 1968 by the Australian Institute of Aboriginal Studies in Canberra (now AIATSIS). This foundational publication continues to be referred to in rock art research, 50 years after its publication.
Bruce’s time with the WA Museum occurred at the beginning of the exponential growth of mining and development in the State, and the refining of processes for protection of Aboriginal Heritage. He encouraged his staff to undertake fieldwork across the State, advocating the involvement of local Aboriginal people in their work.
He was a founding member of the Australian Association of Consulting Archaeologists, and as a consultant subsequent to his time with the WA Museum, his own consultancy reports are models of breadth in their coverage of site analysis.
The WA Museum expresses condolences to Bruce’s friends and family.
Source: Moya Smith, for Alec Coles, Western Australian Museum