Part 2: Important Aboriginal Art
26 November 2014


(c.1922 - 2007)

natural earth pigments on linen

122.0 x 135.0 cm

signed with initials verso: PB
inscribed verso: Jirrawun Aboriginal Arts cat. P.B. 98.25

$28,000 - 35,000
Sold for $24,000 (inc. BP) in Auction 37 - 26 November 2014, Melbourne

Jirrawun Aboriginal Arts Corporation, Kununurra
Martin Browne Fine Art, Sydney
Private collection, Sydney


Storer, R., Paddy Bedford, Museum of Contemporary Art, Sydney, 2006, p. 144 (illus.)

Catalogue text

Nyunkuny (Paddy Bedford) first began painting in 1997, aged 75. Bedford soon became recognised as an innovator and important artist through his unique depictions of East Kimberley history, evolving the artistic tradition forged by Rover Thomas and Paddy Tjamatji.

Catalogued as painting PB 1998.25 in Bedford's chronological index of works, this painting dates from 1998, within the first year of the artist's painting career. Depicting the country of Jamelayigoon (Fig Tree Hole), located to north of Lerdijwaneman (Lightning Creek). The site is characterised by a river running between high cliffs and large cave on the rock face. This is the dreaming place of Woonyjoorroony (the Rock Wallaby) and along the river are waterholes that are the dreaming place of Birlinji (the red river gum).

The area is associated with Bedford's father who was born close by, at Wirndoowoon. Bedford's personal dreaming Minjiwarrany (black plum) was inherited from his father and is also associated with this place.

Stylistically, Fig Tree Hole carries further the manner and sparseness that characterised the east Kimberley school. His use of ochre colours and bold abstract forms contained in a defined structure and articulated by an outline of minimal dotting is similar to the work of Rover Thomas and Freddie Timms. At this early stage of his works, the gold ochres of his palette predominate over brown and black. In later works, his colours evolved to incorporate softer, more delicate hues, and further changed to explore more intense colours of yellows, reds, blues and pinks.

In 2006 Paddy Bedford was honoured with a major retrospective at the Museum of Contemporary Art, Sydney and he was also one of eight Aboriginal artists commissioned to provide work for the new Musée du quai Branly in Paris.