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Wainburranga (Paddy Fordham)
, 1986

by Martin van der Wal

inkjet print on rag paper (sheet: 42.0 cm x 29.7 cm, image: 25.3 cm x 25.3 cm)

Wainburranga (Paddy Fordham) (c. 1932-2006), Rembarrnga painter, sculptor, printmaker and dancer, lived in the bush before moving to Maranboy, where he first saw white people. While working as a stockman in the Victoria River and Murranji regions he was given the name Fordham by station owners. In the 1960s he lived at Maningrida and helped to establish the outstation at Guyun. He started painting in 1983; by 1987, he was painting the Captain Cook story of the Rembarrnga-Ngalkbon people, shown in the film Too Many Captain Cooks (1988). His historical paintings, incorporating events, themes, and iconography from both Aboriginal and European cultures, quickly won wide acclaim. Wainburranga contributed 23 lorrkon (hollow log coffins) to the Aboriginal Memorial at the National Gallery of Australia, observing ‘we are not book men we are letter-stick men’. Henceforth he made many more wood sculptures, mostly of Balangjangalan spirit figures, and in the early 1990s he began printmaking. He was included in groundbreaking international exhibitions of the 1990s and his work is held in major collections across Australia.

Collection: National Portrait Gallery
Purchased 2005
Accession number: 2005.61.5