Paddy Fordham

Paddy Fordham

  • Artist’s Statement

    Paddy grew up with a familiarity of Central Arnhem Land rock and bark painting traditions; however he developed an idiosyncratic style which fused the figurative schema of western Arnhem Land with the narrative capacities of the north-east producing dense pictorial paintings divided into sequential segments. Many of his small mythological barks follow the usual schema of figures painted in plain perspective onto a monochrome background. In his narrative works, stick-like figures are arranged across the painting surface in busy compositions of great dynamism. For the division of the pictorial sequences in his more elaborate works, Paddy preferred the use of fluid lines, rather than regular grids, to isolate each of the events in the story. In reference to his cattleman days, he described these divisions as boundary lines or fences which delineate each sequence, like a paddock.

  • Biography

    Born: 1930’s – 2006
    Area: Arnhem Land
    Skin Name: Bamdibu

    Paddy was born in Arnhem Land in the early 1930’s and died 1st June 2006 . His country was called Bamdibu (Bumdubu) near Bulman Station.

    As a child, Paddy grew up in Maningrida an aboriginal community on the top end of the Northern Territory

    Paddy started working as a boy around cattle yards, which finally led him into the career of a stockman for 20 years. Before this, he spent much of his time hunting and learning culture and customs from his father and uncles. He could remember being taken to a sacred location where he was told many Dreamtime stories of how customs came to be and why Aboriginal people practice them.

    During the time he was a stockman, a strong movement began in Australia for equal rights for all Aborigines. This movement was headed by Aboriginal activators some of which included Charles Perkins and Gary Foley. At the same time, Vincent Lingari, leader of the Garringii people who lead the “Wave Hill Station Walk Out” and so began the Land Rights movement. Paddy says he was part of this movement, actively involved in claiming Bumdibu as his traditional land for his clan. He resided over this land as Jungai (caretaker, policeman)

    Paddy was taught to paint by his father but did not begin to paint seriously until the early 1970’s. He was also recognized as a story teller, bark painter, sculpture, dancer, singer and musician.

Showing the single artwork

Paddy Fordham

Balangiarngalain Spirit
70 x 100cm Acrylic Sold