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Mangala/Yulparija peoples

Bidyadanga, Western Australia, Australia born 1983


2010 Place made: Bidyadanga, Kimberley, Western Australia, Australia
Materials & Technique: paintings, synthetic polymer paint on canvas
Dimensions: 152.5 h x 152.5 w cm
Acknowledgement: Purchased 2010
Accession No: NGA 2010.285
Image rights: Courtesy the artist and Short St Gallery, Broome

More detail

Daniel Walbidi is a young artist whose composition, colour palette, vision and persistence have drawn international attention to the art of his people and his country. In recent years, he has initiated the art movement at Bidyadanga, a community formerly the La Grange Mission, which is 250 kilometres south of Broome and home primarily to the Karrajarri people.

Walbidi paints Kirriwirri, his grandfather and grandmother’s country, incorporating layers of fine dotted lines that crisscross the canvas to show the talis (sand hills) and salt lakes of his desert country. Kirriwirri 2010 is topographic view of his country and depicts a jila (living waterhole) near Well 33 on the Canning Stock Route in the Great Sandy Desert of Western Australia. A palette of translucent whites, bright orange and deep reds are highlighted with outlines of gold paint, and the painting glows as though seen under the midday sun. The sparse outer edges slowly become denser toward the centre, leading the viewer’s eye to the dark waterhole.

Although only painting for a short time, Walbidi’s current works show maturity beyond his years and demonstrate his mastery in executing some of the most stunning works to come from this region to date. Walbidi is a young man with an extraordinary vision to successfully reveal the strength, depth and vibrancy of his culture and country to the world.

Tina Baum curator, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Art
in artonview, issue 64,  summer 2010

in artonview, issue 64, summer 2010


This is a painting by Mangala/Yulparija artist Daniel Walbidi (b.1983) depicting his grandfather and grandmother’s country on his father’s side. The painting is shown as an enlargeable image. This work was exhibited as a part of the second National Indigenous Art Triennial, ‘unDisclosed’, at the National Gallery of Australia in 2012. The resource includes links to further information about the artists and the themes of the exhibition. Text onscreen gives information about the painting, exploring the layers of fine dotted lines that reveal the sand hills and salt lakes of his desert country. It also explores the importance of Walbidi as a significant emerging artist. The painting measures 152.5 cm high x 152.5 cm wide and was painted with synthetic polymer paint on canvas.

Educational value

  • This is an excellent resource for the Responding strand in the 7-8 and 9-10 year bands in the visual arts curriculum, especially for those content descriptions that refer to considering the broader context of works of art, such as their social, cultural and historical context and role of the artist and of the audience/s. It may also be useful for teachers of history in year 3 and 4 particularly in relation to content descriptions about the importance of connection to Country for Aboriginal peoples. In 2007, Walbidi visited his country for the first time with elders, reacquainting themselves with their ancestors and the landscape. This experience was so significant it had a great impact on Walbidi’s art practice.
  • The work is of considerable significance for the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander histories and cultures cross-curriculum priority. It exemplifies one of the priority’s organising ideas in relation to Aboriginal peoples: Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people have unique belief systems and are spiritually connected to the land, sea, sky and waterways. The resource also connects to another organising idea: Australia acknowledges the significant contributions of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people locally and globally. At the age of 16, Daniel Walbidi gathered support to develop a community of artists, to document the stories of country within the community.

Text © National Gallery of Australia, Canberra