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Petrina Bedford

Mowanjum Art and Culture Centre

Petrina is a young woman in her early 20s, and can claim two major Kimberley artists (now deceased) as grandparents: Nyunkuny Paddy Bedford on her father’s side and Jack Dale Mengenen on her mother’s. But Petrina is definitely an artist in her own right. Remarkably, she first exhibited paintings at a commercial gallery in Perth at age 12, when three of her canvases were hung alongside the work of her grandfather Jack Dale.

The oldest of seven girls, Petrina has Gija affiliations on her father’s side and Ngarinyin on her mother’s. She lives at Imintji Community, 230km east of Derby along the Gibb River Road in the North West Kimberley of Western Australia. She was exceptionally close to her maternal grandfather Jack Dale. He first encouraged her to paint as a young girl; ‘painting makes me sad because I think about him, I miss him a lot. But it also makes me feel close to him. I think he might be proud of me now.’ She was clearly greatly influenced by her grandfather who, she says, took a special interest in her.

Petrina uses her own style when painting, but the subjects she turns to are similar to her grandfather’s; Wandjina and traditional stories relevant to her family. She loves to experiment with pattern, very evident in her boab nut carving, a technique at which she excels. Her painting style is looser than her carving in which her mark making, when using just a sharp pen knife, can be exceptionally detailed and precise.