Paddy Fordham Wainburrunga

Paddy Fordham Wainburrunga
Language Group Rembarrgna
c 1936-1/6/2006 (DECEASED)
Male and Female Mimi Spirits

Paddy Fordham was born c 1936 in his father’s country at Barndibu between Malnjangarnak and Bulma. Paddy was nine years old when his family moved to a ration depot at Marranboy during World War II.

Paddy attended school for a short time at the Government settlement of Dandangle before becoming a stockman, working at various cattle stations from Mataranka to

VRD, Killarney and Gorie Stations. Later he moved to Oenpelli, Goulburn Island and Millingimbi. By 1967, after the introduction of citizen rights for Aboriginal people, Paddy retired as a stockman and lived in the settlement of Maningrida, staying almost 20 years before returning to live with his Rembarrnga relations at Beswick.

In the early 1980s Paddy began producing his own work on bark to sell. Paddy uses canvas and handmade paper mediums to preserve his stories.

Paddy remains in a class of his own. His passion for story telling, in itself a strong Aboriginal tradition, leads him to paint Rembarrnga mythologies and also records of the history of the regions he has lived – especially records of black Australian history.

Works are fused narratives of north-east and figurative work of Western Arnhemland. Few artists’ work produce pictorial paintings telling a sequence of events in narration. Paddy is a skilful painter, storyteller and historian. Memorable works relate to the events of World War II, the introduction of Christianity, of Welfare rations, differences between black and white law and the Rembarrnga story about Captain Cook, recorded in the film ‘Too Many Captain Cooks’. During the bicentennial year Paddy travelled to Canberra for the opening of the Hollow Log Memorial at the Australian National Gallery. The Memorial was a tribute to all Aboriginal people who have died as a result of European contact. Paddy painted 30 of the 200 poles painted for the memorial.

Winner of the National Australian Aboriginal Art Award in 1993, Paddy has works in the White House, USA and the Australian National Gallery, Canberra.

Paddy keeps the stories of the Mimi and other native species alive through his art for the benefit of future generations. The Catfish is one such animal that Paddy presents in his unique style. Traditionally the Catfish was an important source of food or bush tucker for Aboriginal people of Arnhem Land. In this piece Paddy uses black and ochre tones to depict the animal, along with other marine sources of bush tucker such as the turtle.

Paddy is known as a ‘big man’ in his country for he knows many secret dances and songs. He is coordinator of many men’s ceremonial events and activities, and has been entrusted to teach the younger men about important issues relating to their culture and history through dancing, law, ceremony, and art.

Showing all 2 results

  • Sale!

    Male & Female Mimis

    By Paddy Fordham Wainburrunga
  • Sale! Three Mimis

    Three Mimis

    By Paddy Fordham Wainburrunga
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