Jirrawun Arts, Kununurra
Private collection, Sydney
Russell Storer, Tony Oliver, Michiel Dolk, Frances Kofod, Marcia Langton, 'Paddy Bedford', MCA,Sydney, 2006, exh.cat.
illustrated p. 158
Paddy Bedford was a senior Gija lawman born at Bedford Downs Station in the East Kimberly region. Like many indigenous artists, he lived a long life as a stockman before he looked upon the Turkey Creek elders - Rover Thomas and Paddy Jiminji - to begin painting. Bedford's first works were made with the inception of the Jirrawun Aboriginal Art Cooperative in 1997.
The distinctive minimalist style of his work is but a mask to the multifarious layers of meaning. Bedford's paintings are inspired by the distinctive landscape and stories of his country in the East Kimberly region of Western Australia, as he depicts from an aerial perspective the traditional dreamings of the Cockatoo, Emu and Turkey; the massacres of local Aboriginal people during the colonial period; as well as episodes from his own life as a stockman and as a senior elder of his community.
'Merrmerrji- Queensland Creek', 2005 is characteristically sparse in composition with bold forms, a rhythmic application of dotted fluid lines and a powerfully imposing colour palate, which is gained from a wet-on-wet mixture of white and ochre pigments suspended in a fast drying acrylic medium. The effect is a pearly radiant luminosity, an ambience of the sacred.
Bedford was one of the eight Australian artists commissioned to make a work for the Musee du Quai Branly in Paris. A major retrospective exhibition of Paddy Bedford's work was held at the Museum of Contemporary Art in 2006, recognizing this artist as one of the great masters of contemporary indigenous art. Late 2009 to mid 2010, his work was included in 'Contemporary Aboriginal Painting from Australia', Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York this year.