BALBAL, Lydia; Wirnpa
Although Lydia Balbal left her desert country as a teenager, she takes strength from her early life there, drawing on memories to paint important sites in great detail. Balbal has emerged quickly as a confident artist after watching with close attention the growing painting movement at Bidyadanga, in Western Australia.
A master colourist, Balbal continues the recently-established style of Bidyadanga artists, while introducing the vibrant energy of a comparatively youthful painter. In Wirnpa 2010, much of the initial layer of paint is obscured by the translucent, bubble-like veil of white. This surface layer conceals guarded knowledge of the Mangala people, such as law stories relating to women’s ceremonial ritual, the locations of vital waterholes and details on poisonous snakes. It is also thought that in this over-dotted curtain of white, Balbal mimics the movement of subterranean waters: the desert’s hidden life source, whose location is known only to a few.