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Paddy Fordham Wainburranga
Paddy Fordham Wainburranga grew up in Maningrida where as a young boy he worked in nearby cattleyards. At the age of 13 he moved to Maranboy Station where he spent the next 20 years working as a stockman. Paddy learnt his traditional culture and customs from his father and four uncles and remembers hunting kangaroos and goannas, being taken to secret locations and being told many Dreamtime stories.
As a young boy Wainburranga was shown how to paint by his father but he did not begin to paint seriously until the early 1970s. Wainburranga was also instrumental in helping to establish Mimi Aboriginal Arts and Crafts, the regional art centre which continues to service Aboriginal artists throughout the Greater Katherine Region.
Wainburranga witnessed the beginnings of the Aboriginal struggle for equal rights, the homelands movement and land rights, and has explored all of these themes in his paintings and stories, thus playing a major role in revealing history from a unique, traditional Aboriginal perspective. Wainburranga’s thematic works include Too Many Captain Cooks, The Coming of the Welfare System, World War Two Supply Ships and many others which are held in Australia’s major state and national galleries.
Wainburranga also depicts creation ancestors responsible for Rembarrnga culture and land. He has worked on paper, bark and canvas as well as making distinctive spirit figure sculptures.
Wainburranga is recognised as a story-teller, bark painter, sculptor, dancer, singer and musician. He was one of the artists to contribute several burial poles, to the Aboriginal Memorial installation made from 200 painted hollow logs, symbolising 200 years of white occupation of Australia, which was part of the 1988 Biennale of Sydney. This installation has since been exhibited overseas including in the Hermitage Museum in St Petersburg and is on permanent display in the National Gallery of Australia in Canberra.
Biography courtesy of The Australian Art Print Network, 2001.