Neil McLeod Fine Art, SA
Art Mob, Tas
Private Collection, NSW
Cooee Art Gallery, NSW
Accompanied by 4 working photographs and 1 of Paddy holding the finished work.
Paddy Bedford (Nyunkuny) was born in 1922 at Ngarrmaliny on Bedford Downs cattle station in the East Kimberley. A number of his Gija relatives had been massacred for killing a bullock near Kananganja (Mount King) a few years previously. The massacre at Mount King and other, often horrific, events are woven into the contemporary history of the Kimberley region and provided Paddy Bedford with a unique perspective informing an art practice that began when in his late 70s.
Paddy Bedford grew up leading an active ceremonial life while working as a stockman on Old Bedford, Old Greenvale and Bow River cattle stations.
Though he had been involved with ceremonial painting all his life, it was by chance that a gallery dealer happened upon some of his boards in a rubbish tip in the mid 1990s. He subsequently participated in two workshops organised by ethnographer and field collector Neil McLeod, that were conducted at the home of his contemporary and friend Jack Dale in 1997 and 1998 before Bedford joined Freddie Timms as a founding member of the Jirrawun Arts collective in 1998.
Bedford’s mastery of painting on canvas owed much to years of ritual activity, and he was soon hailed as the ‘new Rover Thomas’. This work depicts Police Rock Hole (or Win Bil Ji) as it was originally recorded by McLeod. Located on Old Bedford Station, its Gidja name is more familiarly recorded as Winperrji.
Paddy Bedford was an important Lawman who painted only his Mother’s and Father’s country. Police Hole, is located in his Father’s country. It is an important site for the White Cockatoo Dreaming that is central to many of the creation time stories from the Kimberley. This work can be read as both abstract and narrative, as overview and as horizontal landscape.The physical and visual tactility of the natural ochres, the articulation of forms defined by lines of white dotting which appear to float across the canvas yet are firmly anchored in place by the composition, are elements reminiscent of Rover Thomas’s work.
In 2006, Paddy Bedford was selected as one of eight Aboriginal artists to contribute designs for the buildings of the Musée du quai Branly, Paris. Later that year he was honoured with a retrospective exhibition at the Museum of Contemporary Art, Sydney. In 2012 his work was included in Ancestral Modern: Australian Aboriginal Art: Kaplan & Levi Collection, at the Seattle Art Museum, USA.Share