c.1917 - 2010
Born: Kunajarrayi, Yuendumu, NT
LANGUAGE GROUP: Warlpiri
COMMUNITY: Yuendumu, NT
Paddy Japaljarri Sims was born in about 1917 at Kunajarray (Mt Nicker), south-west of Yuendumu at a site where a number of Dreaming tracks interconnect. When he died in 2010 in Yuendumu. He left behind his wife Bessie Nakamarra, his seven children and many grandchildren and great grandchildren.
Paddy sometimes worked in collaboration with his wife, who was an acclaimed artist in her own right. His wife lived in Yuendumu, a remote Aboriginal community 290 km north-west of Alice Springs in the Northern Territory of Australia. She died in 2012. Paddy lived in his country as a young, single man. Back then Warlpiri people wore hair string belts that they had made. When Japaljarri was young he worked sawing mulga trees for wood and for fuel for fires.
Later Paddy became involved with gardening and farming in the Yuendumu district. This included growing watermelons, cucumbers, carrots, tomatoes and other vegetables. The farming was at Four Mile Bore where they had chickens, pigs, ducks and other animals. All his life he hunted for goanna, kangaroo, emu and other animals each day for bush tucker and Paddy passed on his hunting knowledge to many young men in the community. This also led him to working at the Yuendumu school teaching Jukurrpa (Dreaming), painting, hunting, traditional dancing, bush tucker and helping out on excursions 'out bush' as well as to Alice Springs and Darwin.
Paddy Painted with Warlukurlangu Artists Aboriginal Corporation, an Aboriginal owned and governed art centre, for a long time. In 1988 Paddy Sims was selected by The Power Gallery, Sydney University to travel to Paris with five other Warlpiri men from Yuendumu to create a ground painting installation at the exhibition 'Magiciens de la Terre' at the Centre Georges Pompidou. The trip took place in May 1989 and the painting was received with world-wide acclaim.
Paddy was also one of the senior male artists who worked on the Yuendumu Doors. In 2000 Paddy Japaljarri Stewart undertook to produce 30 etchings of the original Yuendumu Doors in collaboration with Paddy Japaljarri Sims and under the guidance of Basil Hall, Northern Editions Printmaker (Northern Territory University). The first print of the etchings was all on one page and had its debut alongside the Yuendumu Doors when they were exhibited in Alice Springs.
The etchings in a set were launched in 2001, to great acclaim with the set winning the Telstra, 16th National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Art Award, for works on paper. Paddy has painted and exhibited regularly with Warlukurlangu Artists both nationally and internationally since 1985. Japaljarri's Jukurrpa stories or Dreamings include Yiwarra (Milky Way), Ngarlkirdi/Warna (witchety grub/snake), Warlu Kukurrpa (fire), and Yanjirlpirri (star).
In his early work he often chose to work in tones of blue, pink and purple but later used traditional iconography and an unrestricted palette to develop a modern individualist style to depict his traditional Jukurrpa. His work has been included in numerous general exhibitions of Aboriginal art including Dreaming: The Art of Aboriginal Australia, The Asia Society Galleries, New York, 1988; The Continuing Tradition, Australian National Gallery, Canberra, 1989; Mythscapes: Aboriginal Art of the Desert, National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne, 1989; Lete Australian Montpellier, Musee Fabre, France, 1990.
Biography courtesy of Warlukurlangu Artists Aboriginal Corporation