The Australia Council for the Arts today expressed sadness at the passing of renowned Aboriginal artist Paddy Bedford.
Known also as Nyunkuny, Paddy Bedford was a senior Gidjil Lore Man. Born around 1922 at Bedford Downs Station in the East Kimberley region of Western Australia, Paddy Bedford spent his early working life as a stockman before moving to Warmun – Turkey Creek.
Paddy Bedford came to art later in life and as senior law man would paint ceremonially for his culture and people. In about 1997, he started to paint on canvas for the commercial art market with the establishment of the Jirrawun Aboriginal Art cooperative of which he was an original member.
He worked in the ‘Turkey Creek’ style depicting the landscape in which he had spent a lifetime. His paintings combine important family Dreaming such as emu, turkey and cockatoo and the living areas for traditional life and stock camp life and country visited while mustering. He would also paint stories about a group of his Gija relations who were poisoned with strychnine in retaliation for the killing of one milking cow. His use of ground natural pigments, rather than acrylic paint, set him apart from many other Aboriginal artists in communities around Australia.
Among his largest commissions was the new work he created for the Australian Indigenous Art Commission at the landmark MusÈe du quai Branly, which opened in Paris in June 2006. In Australia the first major solo exhibition of public and privately owned works was held recently at Sydney’s Museum of Contemporary Art.
The Australia Council is honoured to have supported many of Paddy Bedford’s artistic projects and exhibitions and thank him for his contribution to keeping culture strong. He will be sadly missed by all.