Daniel Walbidi comes from Bidyadanga, formerly La Grange Mission, a small coastal community 250km south of Broome on the traditional homeland of the Karrajarri people. Daniel’s parents were brought there from the desert to build cattle stations in the region. Bidyadanga has five language groups living within the community. Daniel says, “We all speak and understand each other’s languages and live together as one big family.”
At the age of 16 Daniel actively sought to exhibit his work. He was painting on wood board, old doors, offcuts and anything he could find to express himself. He urged the elderly people in the community to start painting so that he could learn about his people’s history and cultural background. He has since become initiated and continues to paint and exhibit his work around Australia. He has been collected by some important institutions and is driven to keep painting. A documentary, Desert Heart, about his work and the story of his people, screened on the ABC in March 2008. He continues to display a complex understanding of his traditional country in the Great Sandy Desert of Western Australia.
Daniel Walbidi was named among the Top 50 of Australia’s Most Collectible Artists in Australian Art Collector for 2011.
Natalie Hunter has worked at the Women’s Centre in Bidyadanga since its inception in 2007. She works with women from the five different language groups in the community. “I love working with the old people especially. They tell me stories from long ago. They inspire me and their stories move and motivate my work.” The women mainly do screen prints and make scarfs and tee shirts for sale to tourists. However some do small paintings also.
Natalie completed the TAFE Broome Arts Certificate and is now studying management at Curtin University remotely. She also continues to create her own artworks. The residency at ECU has enabled Natalie to improve her skill base so she can share her enhanced knowledge of art practice with other people in the community, especially the young people. She is a committed and hard working woman, who hopes one day to run the art centre independently of TAFE.