Bessie Liddle

Biography

Bessie Liddle was born at Iltjiltjari, south-west of Alice Springs. Her Luritja mother was from Tempe Downs. Her grandmother's country was Watarrka (King's Canyon), Lilla and Wanmara in the same area. Her Pertame father's country was around Henbury Station.

Bessie's family moved often - from mission to mission, and station to station. From the age of eight until she was about 19, Bessie worked on Renner Rock station where her father was a stockman. During this period the family camped at times near Hermannsburg Lutheran Mission where Bessie attended school and remembers watching Albert Namatjira paint.

Bessie's mother was afraid that her children would be taken away by the authorities and often took Bessie back to country where she learnt traditional stories and ways of collecting bush tucker. After Bessie married, she moved to her husband's station where she once again did stock work and also became the camp cook.

When she moved to Alice Springs in 1981, Bessie took a course in literacy at the Institute for Aboriginal Development. She began to paint and make craft and, together with four other women, established Jukurrpa Artists in 1986.

Bessie first exhibited her work in 1988 at Anima Gallery, Adelaide and held her first solo exhibition in 1994 at Tandanya, Adelaide, followed by another at Desart Gallery, Sydney in 1999.

Two of Liddle's designs have been painted on locomotives operated by the Great Southern Railway including the Indian Pacific and The Ghan.

In 2000 the artist participated in a Certificate in Art and Craft course through the Batchelor Institute of Indigenous Tertiary Education, which enabled her to transform her painting style.

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