Curly Bardkadubbu

Curly Bardkadubbu was an aboriginal painter who rose to prominence in the late 1970s. He is best known for his depictions of Namanjwarre the crocodile. Bardkadubbu shared an outstation at Table Hill and Marrkolidjban with Yirawala. Yirawala acted as his mentor and they, therefore, have similar styles of infill. Curly was a Western Arnhem land artist and like Bob Balirr Balirr Dirdi he spoke Kunwinjku language.

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The art style of Culy Bardkadubbu

Curly Bardkadubbu started painting far later than early artists like Mick Kubarrku or Dick Murramurra. Consequently for this reason most of his barks tend to be large. His barks are often up to a meter in length. He painted animals like the Barramundi, Crocodiles, and Kangaroo.

He did occasionally paint spirits skeletons and the rainbow serpent. Having Yirawala as a mentor it is not surprising that there are some superficial similarities of their works. Curly animals however tend to be fatter and less dynamic than Yirawala. His artworks are sometimes mistaken for those of David Milaybuma. Both artists had similar great infill line work using intense rarrk.

The innovative treatment of the infill of the figure in his painting is the same used in Mardayin ceremonial objects. Mardayin objects are covered with the same bright patterns of crosshatching and dotted lines. The use of the same design within the crocodile shows the inter-relationship of the crocodile and the Mardayin ceremony.

Curly Bardkadubbu

Bardkadubbu Crocodiles

Bardkadubbu painted the image of this crocodile many times in his painting career. The estuarine crocodile or Namanjwarre is the protector of the sacred objects of the Mardayin ceremony. Firstly, the Mardayin ceremony is an important rite of passage for Kuninjku language speakers of western Arnhem Land. Secondly, the crocodile (Namanjwarre) would devour anyone who transgressed from the correct ceremonial protocol.

The treatment of the infill of his crocodile is the same used on Mardayin ceremonial objects. Mardayin objects decorated with the same bright patterns of crosshatching and dotted lines. Mardayin objects are secret sacred. The use of the same design within the crocodile, therefore, shows the interconnection of the crocodile and the Mardayin ceremony.

Curlys traditional lands of the Born clan lie next to the Liverpool River mouth. His traditional country importantly being well known for its abundance of dangerous crocodiles.

A crocodiles often has a massive twisting body form and sharp-toothed jaws. His paintings similarly conveying a crocodiles dangerous power.

Yirawala

Further reading

They are meditating

The Art of Aboriginal Australia

Other Aboriginal Art and Artists

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Curly Bardkadubbu artwork Images

The following images of the Artworks of Curly Bardkadubbu.  They are not a complete list of his works. They do however give a good idea of the style and above all the variety of this Aboriginal Artist.

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