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Contemporary art

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander art

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Thina Yappa (Foot prints)



Badger Bates


05 Oct 1947 -

Language group

Barkandji, Southern Riverine region


William 'Badger' Bates was born in Wilcannia, New South Wales, on his traditional Country that belongs to the Barkandji people of the Darling River, in Western New South Wales. He spent much time growing up with his Grandmother, and remembers moving from place to place with Granny Moysey, to avoid being taken away by the Aboriginal Protection Board. While moving from place to place, his grandmother taught him about Barkandji Culture, Language and Ancestral knowledge. This early education has been central to his artistic practice, his work as a heritage officer with the New South Wales National Parks and Wildlife Service, and his campaigning for Barkandji land rights. In addition to these important roles, Bates has been encouraging local Aboriginal people to make linocuts by teaching and promoting the 'Far West School' in other centres.

Bates is considered a master carver and continues the unbroken practice of creating traditional artefacts. In 1991, he was encouraged to extending his carving practice to print making, and he made his first linocuts with designs he had been carving on emu eggs since childhood. He had initially been taught these designs by Granny Moysey. This new medium enabled him to make more detailed compositions, and in 1993 he had his first exhibition at the Tin Shed Gallery on Gadigal Country (Sydney.)

Bates uses traditional Aboriginal motifs and designs based on the region's rock art (engravings, stencils and paintings) and the wavy, geometric designs found on local wooden artefacts. His themes include depictions of local sites of significance and aspects of traditional lifestyle as well as important Ancestral Law and Culture stories. These themes and motifs all highlight the connection that Bates' has to his Country on the Barka (Darling River).

Bates said of his 1993 lino print, "This is at Mutawintji. Emu and Kangaroo are coming in to drink. Ngatyi is there. Boomerangs, goanna and hands and the tommy-axe (a stencil) are all at Mutawintji".


Place where the work was made

New South Wales Australia



Media category


Materials used

linocut, black on ivory wove paper




33.0 x 30.9 cm blockmark; 56.0 x 38.5 cm sheet

Signature & date

Signed and dated l.r. corner, pencil "BADGER 93".


Mollie Gowing Acquisition Fund for Contemporary Aboriginal Art 1997


Not on display

Accession number


Artist information

Badger Bates

Works in the collection



Where the work was made
New South Wales

Shown in 3 exhibitions

Exhibition history

Referenced in 1 publication


Hendrik Kolenberg and Anne Ryan, Australian prints from the Gallery's collection, Sydney, 1998, 145 (illus.). 123