While most Central and Western Desert paintings can be said to record landscapes from above much as a map, Biddee Baadjo can truly claim to be painting her country from a birdseye perspective. When the artist was only a baby in the late 1930s - before the diaspora of most of her Wangkatjungka people in the 1940s, bound north or northwest from the Great Sandy Desert - she was along for the ride when her family went hunting. Suddenly an eagle came swooping down to snatch the sleeping baby Biddee Baadjo from her makeshift coolamon cot. When she saw the eagle, Biddee’s mother chased after her daughter until finally the massive bird dropped the child into the spinifex grass, where her mother found Biddee crying but healthy. This would have taken place in the artist’s traditional lands, centred around Piyurr, a sacred waterhole whose namesake bird is defined by its song: Piyurr Piyurr. Biddee and her family left these lands around 1940, but the artist has the memories etched in her mind. She recounts her country’s Sandhills and water sources in these paintings. Biddee Baadjo’s work is further informed by Wangkatjungka song cycles that incorporate sacred knowledge, essential to survival on desert lands entirely bare of surface water.
Explore our artworks
See some of our featured artworks below