Untitled (Old Bedford), 1998 natural earth pigments on hardboard 80 x 100 cm (31 1/2 x 39 3/8in).
PROVENANCE: Purchased from Jirrawun Arts, Kununurra, Western Australia in April 2000 The Laverty Collection, Sydney
LITERATURE: Linda Michael (ed.), Paddy Bedford, exh. cat., Sydney: Museum of Contemporary Art, 2006, p.143 (illus.)
Untitled (Old Bedford), 1998, is the fifth painting catalogued in the first year Nyunkuny commenced painting in the public arena through Jirrawun Arts. The title of the work refers to the original building constructed of Spinifex and paperbark, on Bedford Station, south of the present homestead. It is country that belongs to Nyunkuny's uncles and aunts and known by the Gija name Doowoonan. The painting on hardboard reflects the influence of Rover Thomas, who passed away in the same year this was created: the physical and visual tactility of the natural ochres, the articulation of forms defined by lines of white dotting which appear to float across the canvas yet are firmly anchored in place by the composition, are elements reminiscent of Thomas' work.
PADDY BEDFORD Paddy Bedford (Nyunkuny) was born into a 'world of violence' (Langton, M., 'Goowoomji's World' in Michael, L. (ed.), Paddy Bedford, Sydney: Museum of Contemporary Art, 2006, p.53), at Ngarrmaliny on Bedford Downs cattle station in the eastern Kimberley, where a number of his Gija relatives were massacred for killing a bullock near Kananganja (Mount King) a few years previously. Nonetheless he grew up to lead an active ceremonial life while working as a stockman on Bedford, old Greenvale and Bow River Stations. Paddy Bedford began to paint for the public in his seventies when he joined Freddie Timms as a founding member of the Jirrawun Arts collective, established in 1998 to protect the rights of a group of east Kimberley artists. He was no overnight success; Nyunkuny's mastery of painting on canvas owed much to years of ritual activity, and he was soon hailed as the 'new Rover Thomas' (Koford, F., in Kleinert, S. and M. Neal (eds), The Oxford Companion to Aboriginal Art and Culture, Melbourne: Oxford University Press, 2000, p.540).
Paddy Bedford participated in several major exhibitions, including the seminal Blood on the Spinifex exhibition at the Ian Potter Museum of Art at the University of Melbourne, in 2002-3, about the violent times suffered by previous generations of Gija, and True Stories: Art of the East Kimberley at the Art Gallery of New South Wales in 2003. He was selected as one of eight Aboriginal artists to contribute designs for the buildings of the Musée du quai Branly, Paris, that opened in 2006. Later that year he was honoured with a retrospective exhibition at the Museum of Contemporary Art, Sydney. In 2012 his work was included in Ancestral Modern: Australian Aboriginal Art: Kaplan & Levi Collection, at the Seattle Art Museum, USA.