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Daniel Walbidi + Bidyadanga art movement « Previous | |Next »
February 2, 2008

Daniel Walbidi, a key figure in the Bidyadanga art movement, blends Aboriginal artistic techniques, the vocabulary of modern art. This work is born of the collision between tradition and modernity.

WalbidiD.jpg Daniel Walbidi, Winpa, Synthetic polymer paint on linen

The Bidyadanga tribe lived in an area in the Great Sandy Desert identified as being around Well 33 on the Canning Stock Route. It is Yulparija country. After a decade of devastating drought, the tribe was forced to move away in the 1950s, and they went to the coast, which they now call home and have "learned to eat fish"

The tribal land is intensely important to Aboriginal people and the artists of the Bidyadanga community have been painting it ever since. The transition from desert subsistence to coastal living introduced many rich greens and ocean blues into their art as well as the pinks and yellows of coastal flora. The mix and variation of this vibrant palette, combined with a memory of hot reds and yellow spinifex of the harsh desert landscape, has produced a different kind of art.

AlamWebu (Kalajau).jpg Alma Webou (Kalaju), Untitled, 2002, acrylic on paper

Last year the old people took Walbidi back to the sacred land that they had left half a century ago and for the first time he saw the landscape he had been painting for eight years, imagined only from songs and stories passed down from older generations. Of particular significance is Wimpa,a freshwater spring in the dune surrounding Percival salt lakes.

If Aboriginal art is proving to be one of the most distinctive creative currents of our time, then it is best evaluated in the terms of two contending realms in the collision between tradition and modernity.

| Posted by Gary Sauer-Thompson at 9:39 AM | | Comments (2)
Comments

Comments

Gary,
I can provide a bit more context. Bidyadanga is a coastal town situated 250km south of Broome and is traditional land of the Karrajarri. For many years it was known as La Grange station. In the 1970's the station was taken over by the Catholic Church who ran it as a mission for various community groups. The introduction of the equal pay decision in the 1970's resulted in many aboriginal people being forced from their traditional country by station owners and into such missions and towns.

This is when many of the Yulparija people came to Bidyadanga from their country which runs from Telfer in the south to Kintore in the east and to close to Fitzroy Crossing in the north. Most of the Bidyadanga artists are the Yulparija elders who have spent most of their lives in the desert living in the traditional bush way.

Bidyadanga has a population of about 800, making it the largest single Aboriginal community in Western Australia. The community has had its share of problems, but in the past few years a group of emerging artists have been generating much-needed funds and respect.This article by Julianne Dowling mentions Weaver Jack, Alma (Kalaju) Webou and Donald Moko plus Jan Billycan, Margaret Baragurra, Bertha Linty and Sally (Liki) Nanii. It quotes Emily Rohr, the owner of Short Street Gallery in Broome, thus:

These artists do desert paintings similar to the Balgo people [well-known artists from a north-western Aboriginal community], but with a different palette; more like the looser, early Balgo work...They use different colours – a coastal palette of blues, greens, reds, purples and turquoises – reflecting the geography of where they live, which is on the edge of the desert and near the sea.

This should be interesting
http://www.campbelltown.nsw.gov.au/default.asp?iNavCatID=491&iSubCatID=2540