Lydia Balbal

c1958 - Martukulu 2008
  • acrylic on canvas
150 cm x 180 cm

Martukulu is a soak out near Punmu near the Canning Stock Route in the Great Sandy Desert in Western Australia. It is strong woman’s country, it is part of the women’s law line. Says Lydia, “Long time ago a law man he come up to this country, he went home and left his wife and baby. They make him fire and sit down, cook mayi (bush food) and then she started to cry for her husband. Her tears made the soak. It is important country this one. This my country.”

Lydia Balbal is a Mangala woman. She was married to the Yulparija artist Nabiru Bullen until his death in 2009. The artist's country is near Punmu in the Great Sandy Desert of Western Australia.  Her people's existence was threatened by severe drought so that they had little choice but to leave their traditional country. Her family were some of the last to walk out to the coastal town of Bidyadanga (then La Grange Mission) located two hours south of Broome in the early 70s. 

Source:  Short St Gallery



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The Wesfarmers Collection of Australian Art acknowledges all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Traditional Custodians of Country and recognises their continuing connection to land, sea, culture and community. We pay our respects to Elders past and present.

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