MAD GAP, 2004

Important Australian + International Fine Art
10 April 2019


(c.1922 – 2007)
MAD GAP, 2004

ochres and pigments with acrylic binder on composition board

80.0 x 100.0 cm

signed with initials verso: PB
bears inscription verso: Jirrawun Arts cat. PB CB 6-2004-31 and WM 2005

$45,000 – 65,000
Sold for $91,500 (inc. BP) in Auction 57 - 10 April 2019, Sydney

Jirrawun Arts, Kununurra
William Mora Galleries, Melbourne (stamped verso)
Private collection, Melbourne


Paddy Bedford: Heart of Blackness, William Mora Galleries, Melbourne, 25 May – 18, June 2005


Storer, R., Paddy Bedford, Museum of Contemporary Art, Sydney, 2006, p. 162 (illus.)

Catalogue text

The art of Paddy Bedford is a convergence of what Marcia Langton calls the ‘beautiful and the brutal’.1 His paintings evoke the recent, often dark, history of the East Kimberley following white settlement, yet remain strikingly beautiful in their painterly rendering of country with a sublime encrusted surface, where washes of pink and grey create a unique translucent quality, a consequence of the artist’s wet on wet painting technique.

Gooweriny or Mad Gap (The place of the Cypress Pine) is found in the southern part of the artist’s Mother’s country in the remote east Kimberley region of Western Australia. Located about 50 kilometres south of Bedford Downs Station, Gooweriny (also known as Jarlaloon) is situated beside a seasonal river with permanent water-holes and is surrounded by big hills where caves, utilised by local people as shelter before the arrival of Europeans, are found.

Whilst renderings of the Mad Gap site by other artists from Bedford’s generation are mostly concerned with Gija myths, by means of a compositional structure that ‘stems from the memory of sites and features of the landscape corresponding with stories of the ngarranggarni, which form an evolving repertoire of designs or motifs,’2; Bedford challenges this interpretation in his representation. Locations integral to memories of the artist’s everyday stock-camp life, and the surrounding country he visited whilst mustering cattle, feature strongly in the composition of Mad Gap, 2004. Roads, rivers and landscape becoming recurring motifs in his work. Insightful in its renewal of memory from the killing times and station times, Bedford conveys the history, recent and past, within the geography of the region. In relation to Bedford’s art, Michael Dolk notes that it is ‘no longer sustained by the social relations that once defined the practice and meaning of painting in its ceremonial context, Bedford’s painting reveals an introspective dimension, a process of reflection and dialogue with different social and cultural dimensions of the Gardiya (whitefella) world’.3

1. Langton, M., ‘Goowoomji’s World’ in Michael, L., Paddy Bedford, Museum of Contemporary Art, Sydney, 2006, p. 51
2. Dolk, M., ‘Are We Strangers in this Place?’ in Michael, L., Paddy Bedford, Museum of Contemporary Art, Sydney 2006, p. 40
3. ibid., p. 17