Harold Joseph Thomas (born c. 1947), an Indigenous Australian descended from the Luritja people of Central Australia. An artist and land rights activist, he is best known for designing and copyrighting the Australian Aboriginal Flag.
Thomas designed the flag in 1971 as a symbol of the Indigenous land rights movement. In 1995 the flag was made an official "Flag of Australia". Later he was involved in a high-profile case in the Federal Court and the High Court, to assert copyright over his design.
In 1965 Thomas won a scholarship to study at the South Australian School of Art. He graduated with Honours in 1969. He absorbed everything about the history of art but his main influences were painters Caravaggio, Goya, Delacroix and Turner. He also liked the light treatment achieved by plein air painters in late 19th-century Europe. Harold Thomas' paintings celebrate the landscape and wildlife of Northern Australia. He lives just outside of Darwin in the Northern Territory.
Thomas' oils, acrylics and watercolours are highly collectable and available from Territory Colours in Darwin, Australia.
In 2010 Thomas was involved in a dispute with Google over its intended use of a 12-year-old Australian girl's artwork incorporating the Australian Aboriginal Flag into its logo. Thomas refused to allow 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 with a request for free use of the flag and, while he allowed free use to non-commercial operations that gave health, educational, legal and other assistance to Indigenous people, he charged a fee to commercial operations. He described Google's subsequent offer as a "pittance".
- "Harold Thomas – Creator of the Aboriginal Flag". ABC. 25 March 2002. Retrieved 15 July 2014.
- "Federal Court declares Aboriginal artist owner of copyright in Aboriginal flag" (PDF). Australian Copyright Council. May 1997. Archived from the original (PDF) on 27 September 2007. Retrieved 15 July 2014.
- Moses, Asher (26 January 2010). "Google Doodle For Australia Day Missing Aboriginal Flag". The Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved 15 July 2014.
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